Qtel advises customers to be cautious in responding to spam
Doha • Stepping up its efforts to contain the rising volume of unsolicited text and voice messages, Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has issued a set of guidelines to help its customers rid themselves of the menace. The move is aimed at making the customers aware about the various means being used by spammers to gain access to personal data and to suggest remedies, Qtel said here yesterday.
Customers must be aware of the potential risks when they leave their business cards in stores, or submit their phone details for competitions and raffles, unless they specifically want to receive information from these companies, said Adel Al Mutawa, Executive Director of Group Communications, Qtel.
Unsolicited messages, in both voice and text, are a cause of growing concern for many cellphone users across the Middle East, particularly because text messages are being used to defraud users. With more than 1.4m mobile phone customers, Qtel is committed to protecting the privacy of its customers, Mutawa said.
"Many companies, often from outside Qatar, are looking to 'grab' phone lists and pump out huge volumes of spam messages, often misusing SMS websites. Customers should protect their phone numbers and be careful when sharing them with their contacts. In addition to the potential risks for phone users, unwanted messaging can also put pressure on operator resources during peak hours", he said.
Qtel advised its customers to exercise caution when they receive calls or messages from unknown numbers. It also warned against sending messages to network 'short codes' unless the customers are aware of the organisation requesting their details and have made prior contact with it.
"In addition to the spam text messages, Qtel customers are also getting a lot of bogus calls to tell them they have won a lottery, received an inheritance, or even, in some cases, that the caller is seeking a personal relationship. These unsolicited messages and fraud calls also involve the risk of the fraudsters getting access to the personal details of the customers", Al Mutawa said.
"Qtel is deploying every professional and technical resource it can to try to limit the menace in Qatar. However, the problem can be tackled effectively through cooperation between the operators and the public", he said.
The spam menace is a global phenomenon. A recent study conducted by the University of St Gallen in Switzerland found that more than 80 percent of mobile phone users were getting unsolicited marketing messages.
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