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14.2 million Brits bombarded by SMS spam

A staggering 148.43 million spam texts are received by GB consumers every month, according to AdaptiveMobile, the world leader in mobile security. The YouGov online study of over 1,000 consumers who had received text message spam found that it was rated the most annoying form of spam (41%) ahead of email (36%) and physical junk mail (17%).

“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.”

Despite these problems, SMS is still one of the nation’s most trusted ways of communicating. 17% of consumers who would trust a common digital channel ranked SMS as most trusted, second only to email (60%) on an index of trust around receiving messages from an unknown company or individual. However, this trust can often be abused: almost a quarter of those who have received junk SMS messages (22%) have replied ‘opt out’ or ‘stop’ , which tells spammers that phones are active. Unfortunately, almost half (48%) of consumers who have replied to text message spam get more spam, receive unwanted calls or may have money charged to their account.

“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.”

In the case of money being taken following an SMS spam scam, the research uncovered that such thefts could go unnoticed for months. According to the research, 14% of respondents would not query discrepancies on their mobile bills with their operator until they reached over £5 per month, which could add up to £20.4m every month, across the population, landing in the pockets of thieves.

“29% of those that have received text spam claim that they would leave their operator if they received between 11 and 30 spam text messages a month. Unfortunately, one in eight of those who get spam at least once a month (16%) are already receiving these levels,” concluded Bradley. “There is clear concern that unless SMS spam is eradicated, operators will experience significant churn. There needs to be a much better way of reporting spam – with only 6% having reported spam to their operator or a consumer forum (2%), some respondents simply don’t know what to do with it (8%). 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.”

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Notes to editors:

Total sample size for the YouGov Plc. survey was 2016 adults, of which 1229 had ever received a spam text message. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th - 31st October 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

  • Figure of 14.2 million Brits who are bombarded by SMS spam represents 49% of respondents who have received mobile spam and receive it once a week or more extrapolated to the total GB adult population (47.75 million according to latest ONS figures)
  • Figure of 148.43 million spam texts received every month calculated from findings showing 48.66% of GB population receive spam every month extrapolated to the total GB adult population - 23.24 million. The amount received every month as a percentage of the total GB population was then added together (10% received one text added to 18% (x2) who received two messages and so on)
  • Figure of 17% who ranked SMS as most trusted is a percentage of those who would trust a common digital channel from the list of Facebook, Twitter, SMS, Email, Instant Messaging (21% of overall respondents)
  • Figure of £20.4m every month, across the GB population, landing in the pockets of thieves represents 15% of the 28.58 million Brits that have received spam (4.07 million) multiplied by £5.01 per month

In response to these findings AdaptiveMobile is launching its Facebook consumer spam reporting app. AdaptiveMobile’s approach is an evolution from traditional spam reporting methods, removing the onus on consumers to remember shortcode numbers, and moving spam reporting into the social media age. Available soon will be the SpamGuard app for Android smartphones, enabling subscribers to report unwanted messages to their network operator from their mobile device in just one click. Operators will also be able to import AdaptiveMobile’s Facebook app to their existing Facebook presence, giving subscribers another easy way of reporting spam. These tools will give operators accurate evidence of threats and the ability to take direct action against them, to help solve the global issue of SMS spam.

About AdaptiveMobile:

AdaptiveMobile is the world leader in mobile security, enabling trusted networks for the world’s largest operator groups and protecting one in six subscribers globally. AdaptiveMobile provides Operators with the most comprehensive network-based security solutions enabling them to protect their consumer and enterprise customers against the growing threat of mobile abuse. www.adaptivemobile.com / @AdaptiveMobile /#GSIMVI

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