Advice on combating mobile phone spam in Qatar

Mobile spam

Video still via ictQatar

Though businesses are technically not allowed to send SMSs to mobile phone users who haven’t signed up for their updates, the practice is a common one in Qatar.

There are no publicly available statistics on whether the number of spam messages in Qatar is on the rise, but complaints about such SMSs appear to be growing. In response, Qatar’s largest service provider spoke to Doha News about ways that residents can deal with the nuisance.

According to an Ooredoo spokesperson, the easiest way to not get spammed is to avoid giving out your mobile number:

“Customers go shopping, and when the cashier asks to fill in a form to either sign up for their loyalty program, be notified of discounts, add a phone number and email to account right before payment, customers give their mobile number. If the retailer is part of a large chain, that number is then passed on to all their retailers. This is one of the primary ways customers end up getting Spam SMS from these companies.”

But if Oooredoo customers are already on those lists, they can SMS the message “Unsub CompanyName” to 92600 to block particular users.

Mobile app

This week, Ooredoo has also rolled out a new feature on its mobile app that allows users to block senders by their phone numbers or company names.

The option, which is available to iPhone users with the most updated version of the app, and will be added to Android app this week, has been lauded by some residents for its usefulness:

Others, however, have complained of glitches with the app, which the company asks be reported to them on Twitter:

In response, Ooredoo’s head of Public Relations Fatima Al-Kuwari has tweeted to users, advising them to make sure to type the exact spelling of the party they wish to block (including being careful with spaces and capital/lower case letters).

Long-running problem

Mobile spam has been around in Qatar for years. In 2011, when Ooredoo first began offering its SMS blocking service, it said harsher penalties were being rolled out for businesses that spam customers.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Council of Information and Technology (ictQatar) released this video to help users combat the nuisance:

It also offered these tips:

  • Don’t display or give your mobile number to retailers, restaurants, or websites.
  • Don’t provide your mobile number when you participate in surveys or filling out random questionnaires.
  • Do ask questions if you have any doubts or don’t understand why a company needs to have your mobile number when you buy a service or product.
  • Do check incoming spam messages to see if there is an option to stop receiving future messages through an opt-out procedure.

Do you get spam text messages? Thoughts?

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