Every couple of months we receive an email like this one from avid Bitterwallet reader Stephen. We keep receiving them because the world is still full of low-life loan companies that will do anything to take your money.
So here's Stephen's dilemma, along with some background on about why businesses harass consumers with SMS messages:
I keep getting calls and text messages (5 or more per day) from finance companies about debt, loans etc. I have debt but no missed payments - I'm paying everything on time. Not sure where they got my details from but it started a month or so ago.
"Hi, do you need cash now? No guarantor, 95% approvals in August. Get up to £750 today! www.fastresultuk.co.uk....."
"Your loan has been approved for up to 15k.... www.mrborrower.co.uk..."
"Get up to 300.... www.txtcash.co.uk/sc ..."
"Your loan has been approved for up to 15k ...www.ukapprovalsite.co.uk..."
"Gr8 news... call 01613780109..."
All the texts come from different mobile numbers 07.... and include these words at the end of the text "reply STOP...". I replied STOP to two of the texts but they keep coming even more.
How do I stop them?
The worst thing you can do when receiving these types of text messages, is to reply "STOP". In fact, that's exactly what they want you to do.
As we've seen in the past, there are people who make their money by selling consumer databases to anybody who'll pay, regardless of whether they have permission to sell the information. Some of that data may be out of date - a person may have moved house or changed their phone number, so these companies are sometimes texting numbers blindly in the hope of a lead.
By replying "STOP" you're actually confirming the number is still active. You then become a verified contact and your information becomes more valuable; not only will you be spammed by text even more, but you'll most likely have your details sold on again because they're still in use.
A quick check of the four websites mentioned by Stephen reveals two of them are the same company using different names, and all of them have two traits in common - there are no direct contact details other than email forms; and you've never heard of any of them. Meanwhile the text that provides a phone number is from a company hated by anyone who has the misfortune to contact them or answer a call from them.
The reason you've never seen or heard of these companies before is because they're doing things on the cheap and sly. Buying marketing lists costs hundreds of pounds and create little awareness. That's good for them, because people are less likely to complain if they think it's just them being spammed. Meanwhile, television and press campaigns cost tens of thousands of pounds at the bare minimum, but also puts them on the radar of the authorities.
So what can you do if you're being bombarded by these texts? You could register your number with TPS (Telephone Preference Service) for free. In theory when your mobile number is registered with TPS, marketeers can't contact you without your express permission. In practice, that simply doesn't happen. If you supply your number to a business just once, there's the chance that number can be sold on and then sold to whoever wants it.
The only cast-iron way to ensure a mobile number doesn't receive unwanted SMS messages is either a) never enter your mobile number into any sort of online form or printed form, or b) discontinue the number, start afresh and follow the first option to the letter. That's inconvenient, but it may just be worth it.