15/02/2008

OFT In Scam Text Warning

The Office of Fair Trading has sent out thousands of fake scam text messages to 18-24-year-old mobile phone users in order to raise awareness about scams.

The text message, sent out as part of Scams Awareness Month, reads: 'Urgent! U may have won £1k cash with 'A Good 2 B True'. The text is then followed shortly afterwards by a second text that makes clear that there is, in fact, no prize and that the message has been sent by the OFT to warn about scams.

The message also highlights SMSus, a new text message service launched by PhonepayPlus, the phone-paid service regulator. SMSus allows users to text details of a premium rate number or shortcode and receive an automatic reply with the cost of the number, details of the service provider, how to contact them and how to complain if necessary.

The OFT estimates that around 6% of all scam victims are aged between 15 and 24, losing money to a variety of mass marketed scams each year.

According to the Mobile Data Association, 95% of 16-24-year-olds use text messaging regularly, each sending an average of 100 texts per month.

Mike Haley, Director of Consumer Protection at the OFT, said: "Young people can fall for exactly the same types of scam as anyone else, often delivered through the latest technology. We hope that our innovative approach of sending fake scam text messages will remind young consumers to be on their guard if they receive a suspicious offer."

Trays O'Reilly, Director of Standards and Communications at PhonepayPlus, said: "More and more people are using mobile phones to pay for a range of products and services and in most instances this happens without problems. Our job is to crack down on scams and other misbehaviour when it occurs so that everyone can use phone-paid services with confidence."

(KMcA)


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