OFT texts teens to warn of scams

OFT texts teens to warn of scams

No prize for guessing it's a scam

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is today deliberating targeting teens and young people to raise awareness of mobile phone scams.

The Government agency has sent out thousands of fake scam text messages to 18-24 year-old mobile phone users to raise awareness about scams. It is followed shortly afterwards by a second text that makes it clear that there is no prize and that the message has been sent by the OFT to warn about scams.

With more people using mobile phones to pay for products and services, the medium has become fertile ground for scams. The OFT, which is responsible for promoting and protecting consumer interests, estimates that about six per cent of scam victims are aged between 15 and 24. It said this age group loses money to a variety of mass-marketed scams each year.

OFT Director of Consumer Protection Mike Haley said: "Young people can fall for 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."

The text message, sent out as part of Scams Awareness Month, reads: "Urgent! U may have won £1k cash with '2 Good 2 B True."

The second message, which makes it clear the exercise is only part of the OFT's Scams Awareness month, also highlights SMSus. This is a new text message service launched by Phonepayplus (formerly called Icstis), the phone-paid service regulator.

SMSus allows users to text details of a premium rate number or shortcode and receive an automatic reply with the cost of the number, details of the service provider, how to contact them and how to complain if necessary.