The volume of SMS spam being sent to UK mobile users rose 11 percent in the first quarter of 2014 thanks mainly to a sudden spike in accident compensation scams, according to messaging security firm Cloudmark.
SMS spam has been in retreat in recent times thanks to better enforcement and the arrest last year of one particularly active gang, but the phenomenon of unwanted messages turning up on people’s mobile phones was never likely to go quietly.
Using figures drawn from the SMS spam reporting system developed by the firm for the GSMA (accessed in the UK using the 7726 text reporting shortcode), compensation spam now accounts for 26 percent of SMS spam, up from 14 percent in the previous quarter.
The surge had been sufficient to almost displace the leading spam category during March, payday loans, Cloudmark said. The latter has dominated UK text spam since 2012.
Other types of popular spam push PPI compensation, debt relief, and a variety of products.
Another category on the rise is betting spam, which tends to spike around sporting events before disappearing again.
One question is what operators can do about the spam problem. The official advice is for consumers to report spam by forwarding messages to the 7726 service where the offending SIM ID is entered into a database of numbers to be blocked. This service was given a recent boost when the UK’s main mobile networks agreed to use it as a single point of contact after years promoting their own services.
What might also make a difference is a rise in popularity of more complex anti-spam and whitelisting apps on smartphones. SMS spam won't go away but it could end up like desktop spam - filtered to the fringe.