SMS spam is a growing problem in South Africa, but resources at the disposal of consumers may be inadequate to effectively address this problem.
One of the biggest problems for consumers is to find out which company is behind the SMS spam, and where they gained access to their mobile number.
According to one industry source, the information on SMSCode is hopelessly outdated, partly because of the poor support by the mobile companies.
“SMSCode is supposed to be updated by the network operators, but in my experience 80% of messages received from WASPs come from originating numbers that are not listed on the SMSCode website,” he said.
A small SMS spam survey showed that over 90% of the WASP numbers from which SMS spam was sent were not listed on the SMSCode website.
According to this industry player, it is unnecessarily difficult to trace spam messages. “The only way is to contact WASPA, which has an updated list of WASP longcodes,” he said.
WASPA said that it is committed to addressing the issue of mobile spam so that South African consumers will feel confident interacting with the kind of mobile content and applications provided by WASPA members.
“Indeed, the WASPA Code of Conduct is regularly fine-tuned to ensure errant members are quickly brought to book and every industry player always knows what is expected of them when it comes to spam,” said WASPA.
“Regarding unwelcome text messages of a commercial nature, if the originating number of such an SMS is structured along the lines of, for example: +278212345678954 and there is no short code in the content of the SMS, then the recipient of the SMS would need WASPA’s help identifying the sender of the SMS.”
WASPA said that mobile consumers can log a complaint on their website (www.waspa.org.za) where they will need to provide WASPA with the following:
- The originating number of the SMS;
- The number that received the SMS; and
- A copy of the content of the SMS.
“However, only if the originating number of the SMS belongs to one of our members, can we assist in the consumer’s unsubscribe request. If the originating number does not belong to one of our members, we either pass the query onto the mobile network operators or onto ICASA,” said WASPA.
“Should the subscriber be receiving mobile spam from a short code number, then they can try determine the sender’s details at www.smscode.co.za. This is not a WASPA initiative, but a useful resource nonetheless,” WASPA said.