SMS Legal "Scam" Awareness

14 February 2011

There is a SMS scam that appears to be legal and it basically charges you continuously when you send only ONE SMS to them as a "subscrpition."

Hello and let me talk about the SMS LEGAL "SCAMS" (they can be called fraud as well) which are practiced here openly in Malaysia. Of course, legally they're selling something to you (which mostly are files which you can download through your phone) but you will most probably never manage to get the file, or it's big enough to give you a headache when your phone bill arrives.

Do people subscribe? Yes, people do. Sometimes it's because it's a harmless survey, like say... "Answer this survey and get to know your IQ!" or a harmless lucky draw like, "Stand a chance to win an iPhone 4!" which appears to be a one-time thing, but it is actually a SUBSCRIPTION which they will send you more SMS over time. The thing is, it's everywhere, even on Facebook AND EVEN ON TELEVISION!.

Epic face when realizing phone bill iz gay.

How the "Scam" Goes
SMS ON (something) to (some number)

2. Notice you have to pay, maybe RM4 for that SMS?

3. Think you're done with it and everything's okay.

4. They further send SMS to you, and charge you for each of those SMS.

5. You get infuriated and say, "THIS IS NOT IN THE TERMS & CONDITIONS!"

6. You managed to unsubscribe, but have to pay for all that loss.

Some will say, FREE RINGTONES! Yes, the ringtones are free, but the subscription is not. And most probably they won't tell you the terms & conditions. You have to personally go look in the website for the terms & conditions.

The "Scam" Part
The scam part is, yes, it is not in the terms & conditions. When you view the terms & conditions, they give you the company's general terms & conditions which apply to all of the subscriptions IN GENERAL. They do not state that they will charge you for each SMS there (either that, or they try to hide it as much as possible). But, they will state it during the subscription only, and it will be as unnoticeable as it can be. Some of them don't even state it actually, but manage to come up with certain sentences that have the same meaning, which will be very misleading.

Furthermore, you do not have to really AGREE with the terms & conditions. All you have to do is to send the SMS to subscribe, and you will automatically be seen as agreeing to the terms & conditions.

Every week, your subscription will be renewed, and they will charge you again for it. If I'm not mistaken, they also charge you every week.

The thing is, they charge you for every single damn thing, and the only thing that allowed them to do so is by you agreeing to the terms & conditions, which is by sending that single SMS.

Notice it doesn't say anything about ACCEPTING terms & conditions for this scam. It also doesn't say anything about SUBSCRIBING. But it is a subscription. Before this page, there's only one sentence which reads, "Sign up today and have your horoscope delivered to your mobile phone!"

How to Unsubscribe
You have to remember what is the number you've subscribed to. To unsubscribe, simply type in


and send it to the number. Different companies may have different methods of unsubscribing, but this is the most common one I guess. You will get charged for this SMS as well, and then you will receive an SMS saying that you've unsubscribed.

Are These Legal?
Yes, they are legal, but in a very exploited and overpriced way. They set high prices for letting you download files which you can get easily on the Internet. They also make it seem as if it's a one-time subscription, but if you do not read carefully, it is actually renewed every week and you get charged for each SMS they send to you.

This may appear illegal for simply charging you stuff, but the terms & conditions allowed so. As long as you send ONE SMS to them, you AGREE to the terms & conditions, which is shit and shouldn't be allowed because there is too little information, and nobody confirms you about anything when subscribing.

- Do not give your phone number to companies or websites you don't know.
- Do not send SMS to register for anything.
- Do not bother to participate in surveys or harmless things that require SMS.

This may seem like general information that everyone knows, but it is presented in many different ways, especially in magazines (Astro magazines used to have them, or do they still have it now?) or basically anywhere, even in Facebook. They present it to look extremely harmless and make it seem as if you only pay once, but you actually pay a lot more. This makes people think that it's okay to pay for a cheap ringtone, but actually they're paying for the whole subscription. It is basically a scam, or more precisely, a fraud.