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Government should intervene to curb nuisance texts

posted February 5, 2018
government Government should intervene to curb nuisance texts

SMSPortal, a leading bulk SMS provider is urging government to take action to curb the prevalence of nuisance phone calls and texts, blaming dishonest data brokers for harassing consumers with most of SA’s unwanted communications.

The organisation says the government’s Department of Communication, the Department of Justice, ICASA, WASPA and Provincial Consumer Affairs Offices must set up a joint task force to stem the problem, with a particular focus on dubious data brokers.

The number of unwanted, or spam SMSs sent in South Africa is unknown, and many find ‘m-spam’ more intrusive than e-mail spam because a mobile phone is perceived as personal as it is always carried with you. But first and foremost consumers should not be receiving unwanted SMSs if they have not requested communication from the sender.

Of course reputable companies sending communication via SMS respect personal data and the use thereof, but those who abuse it need to be reported and eradicated. For example, SMSPortal as a bulk SMS provider, has an intelligent spam filter and it does its best to identify and prevent spam to protect mobile owners’ ‘personal space’.

Pesky scammers

Charles Stretch, MD of SMSPortal says: “As mobile adoption outpaces traditional computing, spammers will follow suit, and providers like us must continually monitor to prevent spam being sent to consumers.

Quite simply, spammers are keen to ensure the highest return on their investment. SMS is particularly attractive because while operating systems between mobile devices may vary, they all support SMS.

As a business, sending a corporate SMS is regulated by WASPA. Unfortunately, some messaging providers send messages via unauthorised routes in order to bypass the jurisdiction of WASPA. Tracking down the origin of SMSs using this kind of routing is hard, so the originators are seldom held accountable.

Stretch adds: “If wanting to communicate via SMS with consumers, businesses should only use messaging providers that are members of WASPA, and members are required to display their membership of WASPA on their websites.

Businesses should also verify that the originating number of messages is registered at SMS Code. SMS Code allows you to identifying the owner of a commercial SMS or short code. Legitimate numbers will always be local, using the +27 South African dialing prefix.

What to do
If you receive an unwanted marketing message you should contact WASPA and lodge a complaint against the organisation concerned (remembering to keep a copy of all correspondence).

If you are unsure who the message comes from or if the message does not come from a company you are familiar with you should not respond to the message as this may confirm your number is live. If you know who the message is from, you can try to opt out from further messages by texting ‘STOP’ to the telephone number. Stretch adds: “If one of SMSPortal’s users receives a ‘stop’ message we black list the number so it no longer receives SMSs from the sender.”

You can also register on the National Opt Out Database, which means you will not be contacted by members of the DMA (Direct Marketing Association of Southern Africa).

How to avoid unwanted (spam) SMSs:

  • Be careful who you give your telephone number to
  • Do not advertise your telephone number, for example by putting it on the internet
  • Check privacy policies and marketing opt outs carefully. Use them to tell the organisation not to contact you by SMS.

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