Help us to stop spam texts
These texts promise you the chance to wipe out your debts through a simple loan. But they aren't the answer to your debt prayers!
Have you ever received a text message offering you “extra cash”, a “loan with no paperwork or checks” or a promise to “wipe away your debts”? You’re not alone.
These so-called ‘spam’ text messages, alongside texts about mis-sold PPI insurance or making accident compensation claims, are a growing problem, with reports of as many as eight million being sent in the UK every day.
We’re only three months into 2012 and it is already clear that this is going to be another very difficult year for households under significant financial pressure. With finances being squeezed, it is easy to see how tempting an out-of-the-blue text message offering you easy credit, or to wipe away your debts, can be.
However, taking up an offer made in one of these text messages can be extremely dangerous.
We’re very concerned by the spread of unsolicited text messages from fee-charging debt management companies and loan firms. To highlight the scale of the problem we’ve started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #debttext.
Research commissioned by us last year identified 6.2 million households as ‘financially vulnerable’; the kind of cynical marketing messages that these unsolicited text messages contain are designed to target people who are struggling.
Beware false promises
Many spam texts are sent by fee-charging debt management companies in the hope of catching people who are struggling with debt and haven’t yet sought advice on how to deal with the problem. These companies often make unrealistic promises to “wipe away your debts”.
What their text messages won’t tell you, however, is that fee-charging debt management companies exist to make a profit out of your debt problem. If you enter a debt management plan with one of these companies, they will typically keep around 17.5% of any money you pay to them each month for themselves, and will often keep your first two monthly payments in their entirety as an up-front fee.
This is money that would be far better used to pay down your debts, which is why you should always seek free advice from a debt charity like CCCS. Our expert debt counsellors will always act in your best interest.
What to do if you’re tempted
If you receive unsolicited texts from loan or debt management companies and find yourself tempted to use their services, then this is a clear warning sign that there is a problem with your finances.
Rather than taking dubious offers of help sent to you via text, you would be far better advised to seek free advice by contacting a debt charity like us as early as possible. We offer free, impartial and confidential advice via our online counselling service Debt Remedy and Helpline.
How to stop spam texts
The golden rule on dealing with spam texts is to never reply. The worst thing you can do is send a message back, even if the message says you can reply with the word STOP to opt out of the mailing list.
Many companies send these messages to randomly generated numbers, and if you reply your number becomes more valuable as you are in effect confirming that you’re a ‘real’ person. Far from stopping the problem you can end up being deluged with yet more texts in the future.
You should instead report any spam texts you receive to your network provider. Most networks have a special number that you can forward these text messages on to.
In addition, you can complain to the Information Commissioner on their helpline on 0303 123 1113 or email email@example.com.
The Information Commissioner’s Office is taking steps to tackle this problem, including blocking the SIM cards used to send spam text messages out. To do this, they need to know more about the kind of messages that are being sent, so it’s essential that spam texts are reported as soon as possible.
Finally, you can help us expose the scale of this problem by tweeting that you have received a spam text using the hashtag #debttext - or, if you’re not on Twitter, you can email Matt in our Press Office to get involved in the campaign.