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ICSTIS - the premium rate phone services regulator - has slapped a £15,000 fine on an operator for sending a misleading text spam.

The watchdog received loads of complaints after Polo Ltd, based in the British Virgin Island, texted the spam telling phone users they had won a "£150 prize".

Punters were unhappy because it seemed the text was genuine and had come from their phone network provider, when it hadn't. Oh, and it didn’t say how long the call would last.

ICSTIS fined Polo Ltd £15,000 and access to the service was barred for a year.

As well as the usual clutch of adjudications into text and fax scams, ICSTIS, is concerned about the increased number of complaints it's receiving concerning reverse-billed SMS.

Reverse-billed SMS works like this - users are charged for receiving text messages rather than paying to send them.

When punters respond to a text, it can trigger the start of a premium rate service. The result is that users then receive a series of premium rate text messages with charges ranging from 25p to £1.50 per message received.

In particular ICSTIS is worried about services being wrongly advertised to children under 16 and is warning operators to ensure they abide by its guidelines.

In the last two months of last year ICSTIS received 1,550 complaints about premium rate services, of which 160 concerned dodgy competitions, 134 about fax-back schemes and 127 about SMS services. ®

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