A NEW Government crackdown against companies which send mass mobile text messages touting for business is likely to be well received in Wigan.
Figures released by Wigan Council show the public is becoming increasingly irritated at receiving unsolicited text messages explaining how they may claim compensation for accidents or asking if they have been mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), with more than 20 calls being received by Trading Standards concerning PPI alone since mid-April.
Now the Information Commissioner’s Office has acted against the rising tide of unwanted messages, with two rogue operators responsible for issuing millions of spam messages hit with fines totally more than £250,000.
Although many of the messages are sent legitimately, Trading Standards warned Wiganers that many of the texts are sent by rogue operators and warned people to be vigilant before responding.
Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Trading Standards manager, said: “We are concerned when we hear of companies who ask for a large fee up front during the initial conversation; we would advise customers not to agree to anything until they have had a chance to consider their options and carry out some research.
“Our advice is simple. Never reveal any confidential information, particularly in response to cold-callers.
“Always ask to see a contract and check the terms and conditions.
“Check the company‘s profile online. You can pick up some useful insight from online forums which can help you make an informed decision.”
Ms Middlehurst also advised anyone considering taking up text offers to pay any up-front fee by credit cards, which affords consumers a level of protection and rights under the Consumer Credit Act.
The crackdown was also welcomed by Labour councillor Paul Kenny for Winstanley ward.
He said: “As somebody who has received text messages from companies, I know that this is an issue that the public are increasingly concerned about.
“The Information Commissioner is calling on people who receive illegal marketing texts and calls to register the details so that it can investigate and take action.
“Already it has received 30,000 complaints in the last six months.”
Anyone who carries out electronic marketing must comply with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). The Regulations state that individuals should not receive unsolicited texts or automated marketing calls unless they have given their permission.
Ofcom has also sought to reassure people by preparing a new guide explaining to consumers how they can protect themselves against nuisance calls and messages and make complaints, which is available for download from www.ofcom.org.uk