Pay day loan cowboys spam a lot thanks to OFT
Through a combination of dark patterns, lazy form-filling and shysters selling your private data for tuppence, the chances of receiving marketing spam on your mobile are ever-increasing. Not that you need it because your mates are always happy to chip in with recommendations:
Avid Bitterwallet reader Jon received a text message to recommend First Pay Day Loan UK. All good stuff, except it obviously wasn't sent by a friend of Jon's, nor could Jon recall requesting any information on loans. The practice is hardly new but then you wonder why nothing ever seems to get done about it. What's more galling is when you realise how easy the regulatory bodies make it for these businesses to operate.
First Pay Day Loan UK is operated by First Financial (UK) Ltd. Assuming the SMS messages were sent by the company they promoted, then according to DueDil the man in charge is Hamed Shabani. He registered the company only last December. Naturally the registered address is a rented PO Box and the domain name wasn't registered until last month.
Dig into the website's source code and you'll see it's a basic template available from Marketer Sites, which claims the sole aim of the template is to make massive amounts of affiliate revenue by generating sales leads - if somebody enquires about a pay day loan through the site then the owner stands to make money. But who's paying for these leads? According to Marketer Sites, a US-based company called T3Leads will pay up to $135 per lead. T3Leads have been held to account for alleged phishing activity in the past few months.
So there's an alleged mass spammer and an American affiliate company preying on desperate consumers. Who else is involved here? On the First Pay Day Loan UK website, First Financial (UK) Ltd claims to have a Credit License:
And a check of the Consumer Credit Act (CCA) Public Register reveals against all odds, it actually does:
It can't be so easy to get a credit license, can it? Actually it can - although credit brokerage can be considered 'high risk' by the OFT, there isn't an automatic requirement for companies to submit a competence form when applying.
Few will fall for it but that approval will make a company appear credible to some. Of course plenty of spammers don't bother getting their activity rubber-stamped, but you'd hope those that try are kicked out by the authorities meant to stop them in the first place.