Have just watched the Panorama programme TV's Dirty Secrets about the reportedly fraudulent activities of, among others, Opera Telecom for GMTV, Eckoh for Channel 4. It appears this kind of thing has been going on for a while and millions of pounds have been defrauded out of the unsuspecting public.
Dodgy phone and text lines have been part of the premium telephony industry for a while, you only have to look at the ICSTIS adjudications web site to see that the premium telephony industry has it's fair share of chancers and fraudsters. The key difference is that now this is television. It's not dirty chat lines found in the classified ads in the red-tops. It's average people being defrauded by the TV brands they trust. The brands they trust to give them unbiased news, accurate information and fair entertainment.
My concern in all this, is the damage it is going to do to legitimate services. It could be premium SMS services that people find really useful and are quite happy to pay for like the Parkers Price Check. Or even worse, in my opinion, companies who are looking to embrace mobile services like two way SMS for the first time but are just put off because of the bad feeling surrounding SMS that these stories create.
It is beholdent on all of us in the mobile industry to insist on compliance by all of our clients. We must provide them the tools and the services that ensure trust is rebuilt among the users.
The success of interactive SMS in the broadcast sector has done a lot to raise the profile of SMS in the business sector. Everyone is, after all, a consumer. We need to make sure that it doesn't go on to ruin it.