Keep your existing mobile phone number when changing networks

Latest Mobile Phone News

View latest news | View archived news

Crackdown on Compensation Firms Behind Spam Text Messages

Crackdown on Compensation Firms Behind Spam Text Messages

Law firms and claims companies blamed for fuelling Britain’s growing compensation culture through nuisance text messages are to be targeted in a new crackdown by regulators.

Companies found to be trading in the personal details of members of the public who have received spam text messages that encourage them to take legal action for compensation are to be fined by the Information Commissioner.

The practice, known as claims management or “claims farming”, sees millions of unwanted text messages asking people to seek legal action over accidents, mis-sold pensions, mortgages and insurance being sent to mobile phones every year.

It has been blamed for driving up false claims, sending insurance premiums soaring and seeing banks having payout billions of pounds.

Last month the Information Commissioners Office, which is responsible for regulating the data industry, issued the first ever fines for spam text messaging following an investigation into two men who run a firm that was sending more than 840,000 text messages a day.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said the watchdog was investigating at least five other firms responsible for sending spam text messages, but said they now also hoped to go after the law firms and claims management companies that fuel the practice.

He said: “We intend to enforce against the instigators – the claims management companies and the solicitors that are buying in these services for bulk texting. They are providing the market that sees these messages being sent out.

“We consider this to be one of the most challenging areas we regulate and we have made it a top priority.”

New legislation that comes into force in April 2013 will ban the payment of referral fees amid concerns that the practice is encouraging false claims, but Mr Eckersley believes many firms will simply operate under ground or from abroad.

The practice has been blamed for sending insurance premiums soaring and presenting the National Health Service with a growing bill for medical negligence cases.

In the past year the number of official complaints about spam text messages and phone calls has increased by 43 per cent.

The first fine were issued to Gary McNeish and Chris Niebel of Tetrus Telecoms, who were first exposed last year by The Sunday Telegraph as being behind a series of text messages urging the recipients to respond to an accident compensation claim.

They were also sending text messages seeking anyone who felt they had been mis-sold payment protection insurance and mortgages.

They then sold the names, addresses and personal details of anyone who responded to the text messages to claims management firms who pursued the claims before selling the information on to law firms.

The pair, who were making up to £8,000 a day, were fined a total of £440,000 by the ICO at the end of November. If they fail to pay they may face having assets in the UK seized.

Earlier this month Niebel, 28, pled guilty at Trafford Magistrates Court in Manchester to breaches of the Data Protection Act and was ordered to pay £2,497.50.

McNeish, 25, set up the company with Niebel while living in Manchester but now lives in Thailand, from where he has been operating his text messaging business.

He also pled guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to face similar criminal charges, although did not appear in person, and was ordered to pay £2497.50.



And do not forget that you can KEEP your existing mobile phone number if you decide to switch mobile phone operators. All you need is your PAC code. Use our handy tool on to obtain your PAC code.



View all news


What is a PAC code?

A porting authorisation code, or PAC code, allows you to transfer your existing mobile phone number from to another mobile phone provider so that if you change mobile phone networks you do not have to give everyone a new number... You can keep your existing mobile phone number. The process is termed mobile number portability, or number porting. It's quick, FREE and very easy to do - follow the instructions here for full details on how to port your mobile phone number to a new network provider.

NOTE: You can purchase your new phone contract and then obtain your PAC code. It is not essential to have your PAC code prior to purchasing your new phone. However, you will need your PAC code if you want to keep your existing phone number (i.e. transfer your current number to your new provider). Use our handy tool above to obtain your PAC code.

PAC codes are FREE.

To keep your mobile phone number when switching to another mobile phone network, use our handy tool to obtain your PAC code. Just select your current and new phone provider click OK and you'll receive full instructions for obtaining your PAC code.