By Philip de Wet for Business Insider SA
There’s a new do-not-contact database for South Africans who want to prevent SMS spam.
For about 50 cents and five seconds of your time you can now block some – and possibly quite a lot – of SMS spam in South Africa.
The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (Waspa) has launched a do-not-contact (DNC) database for its members, who will be obliged to block unsolicited commercial text messages to numbers listed there.
Waspa is a self-regulating body of some 400 members, and it is possible to send bulk SMSes without their help, but its membership represents the companies with the kind of beefy infrastructure needed to send seriously large numbers of SMSes. That suggests a Waspa block could prevent a lot of spam.
Previously, South African consumers had to contend themselves with filing a complaint with Waspa after the fact, if one of its members facilitated spam.
You can go to the DNC website to list yourself as not keen to receive SMS spam – but you’ll need to confirm your South African cellphone number anyway.
Instead, you can just dial *120*69269# to use a USSD service to add the number you call from. That is charged at 20c per 20 seconds. Business Insider South Africa found that, with clumsy typing and a couple of mistakes, it takes about 35 seconds to use that channel, for a total cost of 40 cents.
Or, for 10c more, you can send the word “BLOCK” to 40662 via SMS. That will return a confirmation that your number has been added to the do-not-contact list. That SMS is charged at a maximum of 50 cents, or less depending on your SMS bundle pricing, and takes approximately five seconds.
Waspa members are required to check the DNC list weekly, which means there may be a seven-day delay between adding your number and all spam ending, the organisation warns.
By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband
MTN has investigated a report of disappearing airtime on its network and found the cause to be an issue with its SMS charging system.
An MTN customer recently contacted MyBroadband after noticing that his airtime balance was decreasing, despite him having active voice, SMS, and data bundles.
The customer recorded his MTN airtime balance over a 10-day period and found that his balance was depleting at a rate of around R0.10 per day.
This resulted in a total loss of R1.00 over the 10-day test.
Additionally, out-of-bundle data usage was not active for the user.
Faulty SMS charging node
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said the depleting airtime was caused by a problem with an SMS charging node.
“Upon our investigation, we have established that our customer’s airtime was incorrectly depleted due to a faulty node which is used for SMS charging,” O’Sullivan said.
“The number format for the B-number was not being normalised to 083 format, but was instead being sent as 2783 which resulted in incorrect charging.”
“This node is one of eight which is used in a round-robin method for SMS charging,” she said.
O’Sullivan added that the node was detected and removed from traffic on 20 December 2019, which is why the customer’s airtime remained unchanged from this date.
It is currently unclear how many customers were affected by the faulty SMS charging node, but MTN is investigating this to determine which users to reimburse.
“We have extended our investigation to establish the number of customers that may have been affected by this error,” O’Sullivan said.
According to the mobile operator, the error affected SMS services for a number of its prepaid and hybrid customers.
“Pending the outcome of this investigation, we intend communicating to affected customers regarding their reimbursement.”
OUTA has notified members on its Facebook page that a highly suspicious SMS is doing the rounds with regards to e-tolls.
The organisation notes that before members of the public can appear in any court for any matter, they need to be summonsed.
This SMS is a scam to cash in on people’s fear in light of the current uncertainty around e-tolls. The link contains a link to documents which contain malware. The public is advised not to open the link, and to delete the SMS immediately.