Spam texts

01 October 2012

Texting remains one of the most popular ways to keep in touch.

So it's no surprise that firms are increasingly choosing to market their products by text.

But no-one wants to have their mobile phone bombarded with spam texts advertising products and services they don't want.

This guide explains more about spam texts and how to stop them.

A spam text is a text message sent to a mobile phone marketing a particular product or service.

These texts can have many purposes. For example:

Claims management – these mainly concern personal injury claims and claims for mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

Debt management – these messages offer various types of debt management services.

Organisations send these texts to generate ‘leads' which they then sell on to firms who offer the service provided in the message.

In the case of personal injury claims, the leads would essentially be a list of people interested in claiming compensation for a personal injury.

This list is then sold on to a firm which manages personal injury claims. It will contact the people on the list and offer them its services in dealing with possible claims.

It is against the law for anyone to send you spam texts unless you have previously given them permission.

However, if there is an existing customer relationship between you and the sender, it can send you spam text messages about similar products and services, as long as you are given the ability to opt out of receiving such messages.

The law does not cover messages sent to business numbers.

If you receive a text message from a sender you are familiar with, or from a shortcode (a shortcode is usually 5 digits long but can be up to 8), reply ‘STOP' to the telephone number or short code shown in the text message.

This will inform the sender that you no longer wish to receive their text messages.

However, if the text message is from an unknown sender, or from a sender you are not familiar with, we recommend you don't reply.

Responding to the text will confirm that your number is active and might actually result in you receiving more messages, or even voice calls.

Instead, you may report the text to your network operator.

To report a spam text forward the text to 7726.

You may get an automated response thanking you for the report and giving you further instructions if needed. You will not be charged for sending texts to 7726.

An easy way to remember ‘7726' is that they are the numbers on your telephone keypad that spell out the word ‘SPAM'.

Why complain?

Your complaint can provide real benefits, both for you as an individual and for consumers generally.

This is because complaints play a vital role in helping regulators tackle the companies responsible for nuisance calls and messages. Without your complaints, regulators would find it much harder to identify and take action against those responsible.

Although complaining may not put a complete or immediate stop to all your nuisance calls or messages, it does help regulators take more targeted action in this area. 

Making a complaint is simple. You can do it online, by phone or by post, and it can take as little as 5 minutes.

How can I complain?

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing the rules on spam texts.

If you are unhappy about receiving such texts, or continue to receive them after informing the relevant company to stop, you should complain to the ICO.

The ICO has powers to investigate any suspected breaches of the regulations, and take enforcement action against any organisation breaching the rules.

Complain to the ICO

You can complain to the ICO by:

  • Ringing their helpline: 0303 123 1113
  • Going online
  • By post: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Download a PDF version of this guide PDF, 88.9 KB

Download a PDF version of the complete Nuisance Calls and Messages Guide PDF, 1.2 MB