[DNS] DC Marketing SMS Scamming & Spamming

[DNS] DC Marketing SMS Scamming & Spamming

From: Josh Rowe <josh§email.nu>
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 10:43:49 +1000
Good Morning Stephen,

I'm not sure if this topic fits with the charter of the .au DNS list (http://dotau.org/).

The Link mailing list (http://mailman.anu.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/link) is probably more appropriate forum to discuss this topic.  I have copied this email to the Link list.

DCITA recently conducted a review of the spam act (http://www.dcita.gov.au/ie/spam_home/spam_act_review).

The report on the Spam Act 2003 review is available here:

The report discusses the coverage of premium service messages and "mobile call back spam" under the Spam Act, see below:

" ... 

Issue: Coverage of premium service messages

In late 2005 and early 2006 a range of media sources were reporting instances of
consumers receiving unwanted premium-rate SMS messages.14 These reports suggest that
some marketing messages have misled consumers into signing up for a service to receive
messages they believe they did not consent to.

Mobile phones are increasingly being used to target commercial services to consumers.
The mobile content industry is making a number of services available for delivery to mobile
phones to value-add to the product, such as mobile phone ringtones and wallpapers as
well as services designed to entertain the mobile phone owner, including chat services,
sports scores, games and news updates. These services are available through a variety of
pricing packages and contractual arrangements.

There is a question of whether the Spam Act applies to premium service SMS messages.
SMS messages which contain a commercial offer, advertisement or promotion are clearly
covered by the Spam Act. Messages that are not seeking to market a product or a service
are not covered. For example, an unwanted message that is sent containing a horoscope
as part of a premium service, charged at $4 per message, will not be covered by the Act
(in most circumstances). This is because the content of the SMS itself is the horoscope,
which is an actual product, and not a marketing message.

SMS accounts for approximately 10 per cent of all formal complaints about spam received
by ACMA. However, the proportion of complaints that relate to SMS has been rising
steadily for the last eighteen months. ACMA reports that consumers seem to find SMS
spam more offensive and intrusive than email spam. ACMA also notes that consumer
complaints are increasingly concerned with the delivery of premium mobile services such
as mobile phone ringtones.

Several submissions suggest that the Spam Act should have application to premium-rate
mobile services.

The AAPT submission is concerned that:
...many instances of spam, where consumers are sent messages purporting to be from friends
and which actually end up with the consumer unknowingly subscribing to a premium service, is
seen by many even within the telecommunications industry as "unacceptable behaviour which
misleads people into signing up to costly subscription services". In our opinion, this is spam.

The ACA also suggests that the Act should apply to premium-rate SMS messages:
We have been advised by officers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority that
they do not consider premium mobile service messages which are not marketing messages
to be within the definition of commercial electronic message. An example of such a message
is an unsolicited "chat" message or an information message received on a mobile phone.
The problem appears to be that these messages are not an offer to supply goods or services,
investment opportunities and so on, but are in fact the service itself. The definition of
commercial electronic message should be broadened to include messages the sending of which
is itself the provision of a service.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) also notes the issue of
consumers signing up to premium services and accepting to receive future premium SMS
products and services without fully understanding the terms and conditions of the service:

Such examples may be considered by consumers to be "spam". In each case, CSPs16 bear
significant costs in investigating whether a particular "spam" complaint does in fact involve a
UCEM.17 Given the confusion, it is not surprising that only a small number of "spam" allegations
reported by customers are actually UCEMs.

Another issue of concern to consumers is that of "mobile call back" marketing, in which a
consumer re-dials the number of a missed call on their mobile phone, and is greeted with
a recorded message revealing a prize is available if further steps are taken (such as signing
up to a premium content service).

EFA highlights the need to clarify the application of the Act to these missed call marketing
approaches. CAUBE also suggests that this practice should be covered by the Spam Act.

DCITA Comments

SMS messages which contain a commercial offer, advertisement or promotion are clearly
covered by the Spam Act. A premium service product, such as a message containing a
mobile phone ringtone, or a message that is not seeking to market a product or a service,
is not covered by the Act. Some premium service SMS messages may be covered by the

Spam Act. However, the assessment of whether the message or any message in a series of
messages received is classified as a commercial message under the Act would have to be
assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Other legislated consumer protection measures are in place to address false or misleading
conduct in relation to the marketing of premium service messages.

There are a number of provisions in Part V of the Trade Practices Act that address unfair
trading practices that may be associated with misleading practices associated with
premium rate SMS messages. These include the prohibitions on misleading and deceptive
conduct, false representations, asserting the right to payment for unsolicited goods or
services, and falsely offering gifts and prizes.

ACMA is currently working with industry on a number of initiatives to address issues
associated with the advertising and provision of mobile premium services, including SMS.  These initiatives are further detailed in Chapter 13 - Role of industry.

In reference to mobile call back marketing, ACMA has advised that it has referred
complaints about such marketing practices to the Telephone Information Services
Standards Council, which then works with the company to amend its practices in relation
to advising consumers of the terms and conditions of the service. This marketing approach
is also being considered in the development of the Do Not Call Register.

Due to the different way in which these new methods of mobile communication are
developing, it is not always clear to the consumer which enforcement agency is responsible
for handling premium-rate mobile and SMS complaints. The ACCC has developed a
number of consumer advisories relating to premium SMS issues18 and the ACMA webpage
also contains some useful consumer information (www.acma.gov.au/spam). It is clear that
further efforts are required to educate industry about best practice in advising consumers
of terms and conditions associated with premium services, and consumers require further
guidance on their responsibilities under these contracts.

The issue of consumer advice is further discussed in Chapter 12 - Education and
Awareness. It is anticipated that further consumer materials will be made available as the
industry-led initiatives develop. Industry measures are further discussed in Chapter 13.

... "



On Sat, Jul 01, 2006 at 09:55:19PM +1000, Stephen Edgar wrote:
> I would like to bring this to the attention of the [DNS] DotAU Mailing
> list - I have also sent a copy to Josh Rowe and David Goldstein hoping
> we can all publish as much information as possible to rid us of this
> scam and spam.
> A company by the name of DC Marketing has been operating various Mobile
> Phone Scams to Mobile Phone users here in Australia.
> They have 3 scams.
> 1.       The first was sending un-solicited Premium SMS Messages to
> mobile customers charging them $4 a shot.
> 2.       The second is a ring once and hang up hoping that the user
> calls back the number which they are then asked to call a premium 1902
> number to claim the lucky prize they have won at a charge of $15 for $40
> worth of content. (This has been checked by TISSC and although deceptive
> it was found to offer what is said)
> 3.       The third and most recent is sending MMS messages over GPRS to
> mobile users offering content downloads from an internet site hosted in
> Australia.
> There will be a great deal of new information posted at
> http://www.4wisemonkeys.com that state what the 3 scams are in detail.
> *
> http://www.4wisemonkeys.com/archives/2006/07/01/dc-marketing-scam-number
> -2-ring-once-and-hangup/
> *
> http://www.4wisemonkeys.com/archives/2006/07/01/dc-marketing-scam-number
> -1-premium-sms-scam/
> *
> http://www.4wisemonkeys.com/archives/2006/07/01/dc-marketing-scam-number
> -3-premium-content-delivered-via-gprs/
> The site will also be showing the 'domain names' and 'hosting providers'
> used by this company for their un-solicited spam and scam techniques.
> I fully realise that this list is for internet related issues and this
> is mainly on mobile services, though the content and links that are
> being used in these scams are coming from data hosted and served on
> Australian Hosting Services and as the telephony companies have chosen
> to ignore this company for many various reasons I think that we can do
> something in regard to the internet sites that this is being used and
> routed through. 
> I would ask that the valuable internet community here in the DNS list
> and various Apnic Mailing lists we can draw upon the resources and
> contacts that many of us have available to us and do whatever we can to
> rid the country of DC Marketing and their spamming and scamming tactics.
> Anyone who has been affected by this scam is actively being asked to
> submit a complaint to the Australian Media and Communications Authority
> Australian Communications and Media Authority
> Reporting, complaints and enquiries
> http://www.acma.gov.au/ACMAINTER.786552:STANDARD::pc=PC_1970
> Australian Communications and Media Authority
> Online reporting form
> https://web.acma.gov.au/secure/complaint_form.htm
> If you have had any Mobile Spam Messages or 'Ring Once' pranks to your
> Mobile phone (And any other spam) I strongly urge you to fill out this
> form so we can help gather as much information as possible on scams of
> this nature and rid the country of them.
> Regards,
> Stephen Edgar

> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Received on Sun Jul 02 2006 - 00:43:49 UTC

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