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No Spam SMS Policy
Please note: The following information has not been updated for Europeans patrons since the Data Protection Act 2018 became law. Although there may be some subtle differences between the guidance on this page and guidance reflecting the new Europeans and international law – we still consider the information useful to those in the media. This guidance will be updated soon to reflect the changes.
What is SPAM?
Spam texts are marketing text messages (also known as SMS - "SHORT MESSAGE SERVICES") sent to you without your consent.
Not all marketing text messages sent without consent are spam marketing texts. Marketing text messages can be sent without prior consent by organisations who obtained your email address or phone numbers when you bought something from them and are advertising similar products or services. However, these marketing text messages must abide by strict rules regarding their content and provide you with the opportunity to opt out.
What does the law say?
The European and international Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 cover the sending of text message marketing. This legislation says that organisations must only send marketing text messages to individuals if you have agreed to receive them, except where there is a clearly defined customer relationship.
The ICO can only investigate concerns about marketing text messages from identifiable UK senders. As a lot of spam texts come from outside the UK, the Information Commissioner has an agreement with a number of overseas bodies to cooperate and exchange information to try and stop spam texts that are sent from those places.
What can I do to avoid unwanted spam texts?
- Be careful who you give your telephone number to.
- Don’t 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 text.
What can I do if I’m getting unwanted marketing texts?
If you receive marketing by text that you don’t want from an identifiable and legitimate organisation that you know and trust, you should first follow the opt-out instructions provided on the text – which typically involves texting ‘STOP’ to the telephone number or 5-digit short code shown in the text message. The organisation should then stop sending you marketing texts. Legitimate, well-known companies will offer opt-outs, and in many cases things can be resolved quickly without us getting involved.
However, if you continue to receive marketing text messages from the organisation despite following the opt-out instructions you may wish to report this to the ICO, TELECOM OPERATOR or dial your telecom "DO NOT DISTURB ME" CODE TO UNSUBSCRIBE FROM UNSOLICITED MESSAGES.
Text messages about accidents, debt management, PPI, pension reviews and pay day loans
We are aware that lots of people are receiving unsolicited text messages (SMS) relating to accident claims, debts, pensions or mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).
The messages vary in content but will typically say that you are entitled to money because of an accident, debt, pension review or mis-sold payment protection insurance. You are then asked to text ‘stop’ or ‘claim’ in response to the text. We are also aware of a new type of unsolicited text message which is directed to an incorrectly named person, for example ‘Hi Shirley, get your £100 - £1000 funds today only. No checks, no fees’ or ‘Hi Tom here’s that site I was telling you about. Made £630 in the last week already’.
Who is sending the messages?
We believe the messages are being sent by lead generation companies – companies that are trying to find people who will respond so they can sell those people’s details to claims or debt management firms. The companies behind these messages are looking to earn money by selling these leads.
Where did they get my details?
In most cases we believe the companies sending the messages don’t hold any information about you – including whether you have actually had an accident, have debts or PPI – before they send you the message. Many of the people who have told us they are receiving these texts have never provided their mobile phone number to any organisations and have not had a recent accident or had any of the problems referred to in the text message.
We believe the companies sending the texts are randomly generating mobile telephone numbers and sending several hundreds, or thousands, of texts in the hope that a proportion may reach the mobile phone of someone who has recently had an accident, or been sold a financial product, and who will then reply.
Are these messages illegal?
The messages appear to breach the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations because they are being sent to individuals without prior consent and without identifying the sender. The messages also appear to breach other legislation and codes of practice.
What should I do?
The law says that any organisation looking to offer this kind of service must identify themselves when they contact you. The companies sending these messages are therefore breaking the law and we would therefore advise that you do not reply to these messages.
How can I stop receiving messages from these organisations?
You can report them to your network operator, who may be able to prevent further spam from the originating number. Unfortunately as the numbers often change, your network provider cannot guarantee to stop all unsolicited messages.
In order to curtail criminal and fraudulent activities, NCC and various network operators have banned some sender IDs, sender names and some KEYWORDS.
Upon request of the recipient of a direct marketing message, the message originator must, within a reasonable period of time, identify the source from which the recipient's personal information was obtained, and provide proof that the organisation supplying the originator with the recipient's contact information has the recipient's explicit consent to do so.
Any direct marketing message is considered unsolicited (and hence spam) unless:
- The recipient has requested the message
- The message recipient has a prior commercial relationship with the message originator and has been given a reasonable opportunity to object to direct marketing communications: At the time when the information was collected; and On the occasion of each communication with the recipient.
- The organisation supplying the originator with the recipient's contact information has the recipient's explicit consent to do so.
For individuals or organisations sending direct marketing message via SMS:
There are three steps to follow when sending out SMS messages for promotional campaigns:
You should only be sending out SMS messages to customers who have consented to receive marketing messages from you. There are two types of consent:
- Express consent – the message recipient has specifically requested messages from you/your company or organisation.
- Inferred consent – there may not be a clear indication of consent, but due to an existing relationship with the customer, it is expected that you/your company will contact said customer.
Your messages need to clearly indicate the person, company or organisation that is sending the message.
You should always offer the recipient the option to stop receiving your communications, allowing them to indicate that they no longer wish to receive SMS messages from you/your company or organisation.
We urge our esteemed customers to avoid these sender NAMES and Keywords:
million, lottery, gbp, pounds, dollars, euros, euro, money, won, you won, win now, winning number, win, winner, winning, survey, surveys, scratch and win, million dollars, prize, n2million, mtn, glo, airtel, etisalat, 180, MTN-NG, Interpol, Interp0l,1nterp0l, GLO, BI, CIA, EFCC, MTN, 180, AIRTEL, NOKIA, UBA, DIAMOND, Zenith, NNPC, CBN, REF:NK015, N0K1AUK, FIRSTBANK, BOA, Access, police alert, promo win, pr0m0 win, pr0mo w1n, prom0 win, promo won call, CID of Qatar, UK Government (DVL), UAE Government, Government, bank, Congrats, congratulations promo won call, promo won call, promo won call, pr0mo w0n call, promo won call, hurray w0n call, hurray won call, won prize call, w0n prize call, pr0m0 prize call, prom0 prize call, pr0mo prize call, won, winner, Credit Alert and other spam words not listed above.
Using any or combination of above keywords and sender IDs would result in blocking such SMS by NCC and units would be deducted without refund. Please avoid them by all means.
Thanks for your continuous patronage, understanding and cooperation!