PING! The phone beeps the arrival of a new text. But instead of being an exciting invite or juicy gossip, it’s yet another slice of spam.
The number of junk texts — from ambulance-chasing insurance brokers to sex chatlines — have soared, with Britons receiving more than four million every day. For some, they cost money: anyone replying, even in an attempt to unsubscribe, may have to pay for a premium-rate text. Some have reported being so plagued by spam texts they have had to change phones.
But there are ways to cut down on the number of unwanted texts. Firstly, if the message comes from a known source, such as a utility, insurance firm or even a hairdresser (one chain irritatingly texted me weekly after I once visited for a trim two years ago), contact them and demand your number is removed from their database.
But if the text is anonymous, do not reply to the number (it’ll be expensive and mean just show the junk-sender that your number is active, making it more lucrative for them to sell on). Instead, forward it to your network’s spam line. For T-Mobile, Orange and O2 the number is 7726, for Vodafone it is 87726 or for Three the number is 37726. The Information Commissioner’s helpline on 0303 123 1113 may also be able to help.
At home, the number to dial to cut down on landline spam is the Telephone Preference Service. Call 0845 070 0707 or visit tpsonline.org.uk to register.
To prevent firms blitzing your phone with junk in the future, limit the number of companies that you give your number out to, and always remember to tick the “do not contact me” box when filling in forms.
This won’t always work - the Information Commission reckons that in most cases the companies sending the messages don’t actually hold any information about you - including whether you have actually had an accident, have debts or PPI - but are just randomly generating mobile telephone numbers and sending several hundreds, or thousands, of texts in the hope that a proportion may reach the mobile phone of someone who has recently had an accident, or been sold a financial product. Don’t fall for their ruse.