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Watchdog to target text spammers

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Premium-rate phone service watchdog ICSTIS is to clamp down on unscrupulous text spammers after seeing the number of complaints rocket over the last year.

In a stern warning to the industry, ICSTIS said it will no longer tolerate misleading and unsolicited text messages that trick people into calling premium rate numbers by stating that they have won a cash 'prize' or 'award'.

This type of spam - which fleeces people by tricking them into calling a premium-rate number - is no longer a relatively small-scale concern, claimed the watchdog.

Not only is ICSTIS calling time on the spammers, it's also threatening action against a handful of telecoms companies it claims provide the premium-rate numbers while turning a blind eye to how they are being used.

ICSTIS has already received more than 5000 complaints this year about such scams, a massive increase on the 1200 it received during the whole of last year.

ICSTIS Chairman Sir Peter North said: "There have been, and may well continue to be, certain individuals and companies who deliberately set out to deceive consumers purely for financial gain... the current situation is simply not acceptable and cannot continue.

"We are not just focusing our attention on the service providers involved. We are also dealing with those networks that, despite our much publicised concerns, continue to provide numbers to service providers wanting to run these services, so perpetuating the harm caused," he said.

Earlier this year, ICSTIS fined a Gibraltar-based outfit a total of £40,000 for sending out an unsolicited text telling UK punters they had been selected to receive a "£400 reward". Punters could only claim their "reward" if they called a premium-rate number.

And last year it fined a Leeds-based company £50,000 for a similar offence. ®

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