Loan Company Fined for Spam SMS | DMA

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Loan Company Fined for Spam SMS

Earlier in December, the ICO announced that a payday loan company, First Financial, had been given a £175,000 penalty for sending spam SMS. Along with fines to other companies in 2011, this is an important signal to senders of unsolicited marketing messages. Although there has been a shift by users away from SMS to channels such as What’sApp, iMessage or even Shapchat (amongst younger users), it still remains an important brand channel. There are many choices for mobile marketing now, from apps to web, however SMS is a core channel to deliver notifications, service messages or even vouchering. It’s important, therefore, for both legitimate businesses and consumers that SMS spam is minimised otherwise the immediacy benefits of messaging will simply disappear. Not only that, but increased spam creates suspicion in users to engage with brands across all mobile channels. Why should a consumer download a brand app if they believe it will lead to more spam?

In spite of this important signal from the ICO, SMS spam does not appear to be abating. Although it is at a relatively low level when compared to unsolicited emails, mobile users find spam to be highly intrusive. Unfortunately, chasing down the rogue businesses will be an ongoing task. There is also an issue of consumer awareness. In their press release, the ICO mentioned the spam reporting shortcode, 7226. It has been in place for some years, yet few people know about it. Not only that, but the reporting service has limited capabilities. They can block the sending number, but as this is often spoofed, it will not eliminate spam to the consumer.

Through the DMA, members of the Mobile and Connected Marketing Council have been meeting with the regulators to address the problem. Whilst some progress has been made through the ICO, there is clearly some way to go to solve the problem.

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