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ICSTIS - the premium rate telephone services watchdog - has warned that it will come down hard on any operators misleading phone users with dodgy money-making text messaging scams.

Publishing its latest report Director George Kidd said: "The use of text messaging to promote premium rate services has many obvious consumer benefits when carried out in a legitimate, responsible manner and in compliance with our Code of Practice.

"However, we will not hesitate to take swift action against the small minority of service providers who think that they can abuse public confidence and trust in text messaging in order to make money with no regard for consumers whatsoever," he said.

This hard line comes a month after ICSTIS slapped a £50,000 fine on Leeds-based Moby Monkey Ltd for sending misleading spam text messages.

In that case, mobile phone users received a text message informing them that they had been chosen to receive a "£500 mystery award" and urging them to call a premium rate number to claim their prize.

However, the award turned out to be discount holiday vouchers up to the value of £500.

In some cases the texts had been sent to children. And in one instance someone received the spam 40 times in one day.

ICSTIS' latest report also reveals that it jumped on Doncaster-based Courier Link, which sent spam text messages advising people to call a premium rate number to - get this - stop spam text messages.

However, ICSTIS found that the service could not stop the receipt of all text promotions and was only able to prevent the continued receipt of messages sent out by Courier Link.

The text spam also claimed falsely that the service was offered by an official body from the direct marketing industry.

Courier Link was fined £1,500 and issued with a formal reprimand. ®

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