Local SMS spammers named and fined

SMS spam, unwarranted deductions from a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) on your cellular account and related rogue activities from WASPs continue to infuriate mobile phone users across the country.  The prevalence of SMS scams are also on the increase, with warnings from security companies that consumers should be particularly vigilant when it comes to SMS messages.

Good news for South African cellular users is that the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) of SA recently ratified Version 8 of its Code of Conduct for members.  They now offer even more protection to consumers of mobile content and application services.

The latest version of the Code ensures that WASPA members are clear about the rules that they must follow in their advertisements across all media.  It also puts stricter rules into place around reminder notifications for subscribers; clarifies and expands a number of important definitions; and reduces the amount of time that a WASP has to respond to an unsubscribe request.

And WASPA seems to be putting its money – or more accurately the money of offending WASPs – where their mouth is.  In December last year WASPA handed out 16 fines to WASPs which did not adhere to the WASPA Code of Conduct, ranging between R2,500 and a whopping R225,000. 

Many WASPs are however repeat offenders, notching up fines of hundreds of thousands of Rands.  It is interesting to see some well known WASPs on the list of providers which have repeatedly fallen on the wrong side of WASPA rulings.  This includes iTouch, eXactmobile and Vodacom Service Provider.

The following table provides an overview of some of the WASPs which notched up the most complaints – and received the most fines – in recent years.  The ‘Internal WASP Service of MTN’ was included for interest sake.

Company Complaints upheld/partially upheld Number of fines Highest fine
Buongiorno UK! 50 23 R385,000
iTouch 37 30 R52,000
eXactmobile 35 26 R65,000
Integrat 28 17 R175,000
AMV 24 18 R250,000
Mira Networks 20 12 R100,000
mBill 20 0 No fines
Vodacom Service Provider 17 13 R30,000
Sybase 365 13 7 R100,000
Blinck Mobile 11 9 R100,000
Opera Telecom 10 7 R600,000
SMSNET-SA 10 6 R250,000
Clickatell 10 6 R60,000
Internal WASP Service of MTN 5 3 R12,000

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Local SMS spammers named and fined