According to a study by mobile security firm, AdaptiveMobile, over 148 million spam texts are being sent to consumers each month.
With 61% of the UK population having received a mobile spam text, 22% have replied to 'stop' messages causing them to receive unwanted phone calls or have money charged to their phone bill.
AdaptiveMobile revealed that consumers wouldn't report discrepancies on their mobile phone bill until it went £5 over. The study estimates that this could add up to over £20m in profits each month for mobile scammers.
"What starts as an annoyance can very quickly turn into fraud," says Ciaran Bradley, VP Handset Security, AdaptiveMobile. "We've seen this happen in America over the last few years and with 60% of the British population having received unsolicited messages, this is becoming an important issue for the mobile ecosystem. If we act now, there is no reason why we cannot get rid of this headache entirely and preserve a channel which is very much trusted by the nation."
The research suggests that unless SMS spam is better controlled operators will experience significant churn. Many consumers do not know what to do when receiving regular spam and only 6% report spam to their mobile operator or a consumer forum.
"Operators, content aggregators, security providers and regulators need to work together to expose the spammers and share data on the culprits to ensure the problem can be solved once and for all," added Bradley.
SMS is one of the nation's most popular and trusted methods of communicating. SMS (17%) ranked only second to email (60%) as a trusted source for receiving messages from unknown persons or companies.
"Many people will have experienced the irritation of receiving unwanted marketing calls or spam texts," says Stephen Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the Information Commissioner's Office. "Better mobile controls can help to reduce the amount of spam texts an individual receives. We are currently working to identify companies who continue to send out spam in breach of the law and we have the power to issue a monetary penalty of up to £500,000 against the worst offenders."
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