DO NOT REPLY EITHER WAY – THIS IS A SCAM
(Sometimes called a ‘Debt Relief Order’ or ‘DRO’)
I just this minute received an unsolicited text message which, is almost certainly bogus.
I quick search on Google revealed no information about the originating number of the message itself, so I thought I’d post it here.
The message I received was:
– NEWS ALERT: A Debt Settlement Order has been introduced, this means that people struggling with debt can apply to have it wiped off, to apply txt OK 2 stop txt STOP.
Other variants include:
– The government has introduced a Debt Settlement Order, this means people struggling with debt can apply to have it wiped off, to apply txt OK. 2 stop txt STOP
– A Debt Settlement Order has been introduced, this means people struggling with debt can apply to have if wiped off, to apply reply DEBT.
– The government has introduced a Debt Relief Order. People struggling to pay bills can have debt wiped off for ever. For more info text INFO. To stop text STOP (See: Debt Relief Order)
– Due to a new legislation, those struggling with debt can now apply to have it written off. For more information text the word ‘INFO’ or to opt-out text stop. (See: New Legislation – Debt Written Off)
And something suspiciously similar on a different theme:
– FREEMSG: Our records indicate that you may be entitled to 3750 pounds for the Accident you had. To claim for free reply with YES to this msg.To opt out text STOP” (See: 3750 Accident Claims Text Message)
And, recently (20/03/2011), one offering help to Get a 15K Loan Fast:
– Are you looking for aloan up to 15k. No guarantor. Same day payout. Bad Credit OK. Completely online. Visit www.getaloanfast.co.uk To opt-out reply stop
I received a DEBT FREE message from Per Ltd on 28/04/2011:
– Get yourself DEBT FREE this Year! Reply “info” to this number for details. Government backed scheme. Free to reply. Get a fresh start. £1000 plus. PER Ltd
And also, just a Blank Text Message
Reported From The Following Numbers:
- +447510800284 / 07510800284
- +447510800287 / 07510800287
- +447510800365 / 07510800365
- +447510800381 / 07510800381
- +447510800421 / 07510800421
- +447510819470 / 07510819470
- +447510819480 / 07510819480
- +447510819489 / 07510819489
- +447510821034 / 07510821034
- +447511435429 / 07511435429
- +447565477802 / 07565477802
- +447771759752 / 07771759752
- +447775131171 / 07775131171
- +447766621230 / 07766621230
- +447780189486 / 07780189486
- +447788585481 / 07788585481
- +447796599282 / 07796599282
- +447798969275 / 07798969275
- +447825038518 / 07825038518
- +447909285452 / 07909285452
- +447917863816 / 07917863816
- +447979924890 / 07979924890
Let me know if you have any others.
UPDATE: I stopped maintaining this list after 20 or so numbers. In reality there are scores more (detailed in the comments below). Do keep them coming, however, as people may be searching just on the number. If the first thing they see is SCAM then all the better!)
This is a scam. Even texting ‘STOP’ may cost you money (although there is no cencrete evidence to suggest this), and will also let the scammers/spammers know that your number is a legitimate one and may lead to more text spam.
The message above is reproduced verbatim. You’ll note the use of commas instead of fullstops, the use of ‘to’ and then ‘2’ later, and the phrase ‘wiped off’. Wiped off what, exactly? The originator is unprofessional, and is chancing their luck.
The best thing to do is just delete this message and warn other people.
Help! I Did Reply!
A few respondants have said that they came to this page after replying to the number, and have expressed some concern. There is no evidence to suggest that anything happens other than your number being flagged for the receipt of future messages. You may also receive a call from a so-called debt management company, so I would encourage you to ignore it, or politely decline.
I took the bold step of replying, partly because I was curious, but most because I wanted to waste their time. You can read more about it in my article Affiliate Data Systems – “Accident Claims” Scammers.
For anyone that does speak to one of the companies prepetrating this, it would be useful to know who they are, and from what number they contacted you. If we can post this number here then we can only increase awareness. I’d also be curious to know who they are buying their leads from.
For the adventurous, why not try wasting their time? String them along. You may have already cost them £10 as a potential ‘lead’. By wasting their time, you prevent them from following up other leads, and will probably mean the leads company will have to refund them.
Are You a Victim?
Screenchannel Television is making a new series about debt and loans and are looking for people to share their experiences. If have been a victim of this scam, or have even considered responding and are interested in taking part, then you can read more in this article.
Back in May 2009, the Guardian newspaper wrote an article Spam to go – the new mobile menace. It recommends a number of organisations you can contact.
To complain about an inappropriate text, call the Advertising Standards Authority 020 7492 2222 or go to www.asa.org.uk/asa/contact/
To resolve continual mobile spam despite texting “stop”, contact the ICO on 01625 54 57 45 or go to www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx
For help with premium rate text spam, call PhonepayPlus on 0800 500 212 or log on to www.phonepayplus.org.uk/output/Make-a-complaint.aspx
You may be report these messages to your provider. The following links may help:
Vodafone – How do I report spam text messages? Forward the spam message to VSPAM (87726).
Orange – Stop spam text messages. If you are on Orange and get spam messages, please forward them to 7726 free from your Orange phone. By doing this you are helping Orange to collate information to help reduce spam messages being sent to you and others.
02 also allow you to report on 7726. See: SPAM and unwanted subscription texts
I would also try forwarding the message onto 7726 if you are with T-Mobile or Three.
How Does It Work?
Appalling, yet fascinating, and well worth a read.
From dedicated ‘leads’ companies, to mobile number spoofing and bulk SIM card buying on Ebay, the setup is quite elaborate, but relatively simple to put in place (you can even pay someone else to do it for you at a cost neglibile to the equivalent advertising).
Thanks to the help of commenters to this article and other resources on the net, I have been able to put together a comprehensive article on how this all works: http://www.jameswiseman.com/blog/2011/03/14/telephony-leads-and-debt-management-companies-how-it-works/
Who Are They?
Firstly, who it isn’t: Many people have speculated that several large and instantly recognisable companies may be responsible. There is no evidence to suggest this. This incessant and remorseless spamming on a large but mainly random scale. The consequences of large companies for breaking stringent data protection rules are dire in terms of legislative action and loss of reputation and subsequent business.
My original response to this question was “I don’t know”, and after a lot of investigation, I still don’t. However there’s a good reason for this, because the answer is “many”.
One thing that I have found out is that the Manchester area is seemingly a hotbed for these sorts of companies, with a number of respondents reporting having received calls from 0161 number. I also had a conversation with one recently, again a Manchester-sounding accident with an 0161 number.
More of this is covered in the the article on how it works,
Any other useful links relating to the above would also be appreciated. It’ll all help build a better picture of what’s happening.
I don’t recommend you reply, but if you have arrived here after doing so, I would be grateful to hear of your experiences, company names, etc. Every comment is moderated, so if you would prefer for it not to be published then just indicate as such and it won’t be.
If you receive a call after reading this, then try to find out as much info as possible, and let me know. Keep them on the phone, waste their time, try and scam them back!!!
I really can’t express enough my thanks to everyone that has contributed. Since posting the original article I’ve received an unprecedented response from people. In a Google search for Debt Settlement Order this post will be ranked in the top three! Thank you so much, everyone, for commenting. Please keep them coming, and of course let’s get this recognised by BBC Watchdog.
This story jut keeps running and running, so I though it would be useful to publish a timeline of events and stores relating to this:
17th January 2011 – Original article (this article) posted.
17th January 2011 – 1st comment posted
14th Febrary 2011 – 100th comment posted
15th Febrary 2011 – Article regarding Blank Text Message spam reported
2nd March 2011 – Campaign to feature on BBC Watchdog started
8th March 2011 – 500th Comment posted
14th March 2011 – Major article on How It Works posted
20th March 2011 – Received Get a 15K Loan Fast text message. Subsequent article posted.
23rd March 2011 – Featured in Penman & Sommerlad Investigate Daily Mirror Blog
28th March 2011 – Called by Affiliate Data Systems and subsequent article posted.
29th March 2011 – Debt Relief Order spam variant encountered and subsequent article posted.
2nd April 2011 – Simon Read covered it in Consuming Issues: Scam debt text hopes to trick the vulnerable in the Independent Newspaper.
4th April 2011 – 3750 Accident Claims Text Message article posted.
5th April 2011 – New Legislation – Debt Written Off spam variant encountered and subsequent article posted.
28th April 2011 – Two DEBT FREE message from Per Ltd spam text messages recieved and subsequent article posted.
11th May 2011 – Mis-Sold Loan Insurance Spam Text Message received and subsequent article posted.
6th June 2011 – You have still not claimed the compensation for your accident – Text Message Scam reported and subsequent article posted.
22nd June 2011 – URGENT! If you took out a bank loan prior to 2007 Spam Text Message received and subsequent article posted
22nd June 2011 – Looking for a loan or payday – Spam Text Message received and subsequent article posted.
21st July 2011 – Government Debt Help Spam Text Message received and subsequent article posted.
22nd August 2011 – Loans, Credit Card Interest & Charges Frozen – Spam Text Message received and subsequent article posted.
The world is full of people trying to separate the vulnerable from their money. If you are interested, you can read about my Blog series on the Windows Support Telephone Scam based in India. Its worth knowing about so you can warn family and friends.