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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 12:52 GMT
Text scams warning to youngsters
Mobile phone keypad
Mobile phone users can turn to a new service to check suspicious texts
Thousands of young people have been sent fake scam text messages by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to warn them about con-artists.

The campaign saw 25,000 mobile phone users aged between 18 and 24 receive a message telling them they might have won 1,000 in cash.

But a second message arrived soon after informing them that the message was a fake and warning them about scams.

The OFT estimates that 6% of scam victims are aged between 16 and 24.

The Information Commissioner's Office provided the OFT with numbers of 25,000 young people who have opted to receive marketing text messages.

We hope that our innovative approach of sending fake scam text messages will remind young consumers to be on their guard if they receive a suspicious offer
Mike Haley, Office of Fair Trading

As part of the OFT's Scams Awareness Month campaign, it sent texts to all these numbers on Friday.

The text reads: "Urgent! U may have won 1k cash with '2 Good 2 B True'."

A second text followed shortly afterwards that made clear that there was in fact no prize, and that it was simply a warning about scams.

New service

The message also highlighted SMSus, a new text message service from PhonepayPlus, the body which regulates services bought by phone. This allows users to text details (to 76787) of a premium rate number or shortcode they are suspicious about.

An automatic reply lists the cost of the number, details of the service provider, how to contact them and how to complain if necessary. The service is free for most people, but will cost no more than 12p.

Mike Haley, director of consumer protection at the OFT, said: "Young people can fall for exactly the same types of scam as anyone else, often delivered through the latest technology.

"We hope that our innovative approach of sending fake scam text messages will remind young consumers to be on their guard if they receive a suspicious offer."

Trays O'Reilly, director of standards and communications at PhonepayPlus, said: "More and more people are using mobile phones to pay for a range of products and services and in most instances this happens without problems.

"Our job is to crack down on scams and other misbehaviour when it occurs so that everyone can use phone-paid services with confidence."

According to the Mobile Data Association, 95% of 16 to 24-year-olds use text messaging regularly, each sending an average of 100 texts per month.



SEE ALSO
7.5m bid to target rogue traders
04 Feb 08 |  Business
Warning over 'boiler room' scam
08 Jan 08 |  Jersey
Bogus university scam uncovered
07 Jan 08 |  Education
Thousands recovered in scam mail
21 Dec 07 |  Tayside and Central
Mother runs up 30,000 scam debt
18 Dec 07 |  Derbyshire

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