Mobile users are increasingly being dragged into a scam that charges them via their phone bills to receive nuisance texts despite never giving consent. The number of people complaining to the regulator about such rip-off texts has jumped by more than 70 per cent in a year.One of the latest companies to be fined for such practices is Net Real Solutions. More than 30,000 people were duped into receiving messages from a games and video service it owns called 'Applicateka'.

Some were signed up after clicking on malicious software that then bypassed the stages at which customers would have given permission to receive the messages. Others were misled by a digital marketing trick known as 'content locking'. This involves customers unlocking something they want from one service by paying for another. The Phone-paid Services Authority the regulator for premium services charged to a mobile monitored the Applicateka service after more than 300 people complained they were signed up but had not consented to it. It resulted in a 200,000 fine for Net Real Solutions.

New rules are on the way to better protect people. The PSA launched a consultation about message subscription traps earlier this year and is due to publish its verdict in the coming weeks. Unintended sign-ups often happen when people use the internet on their mobiles, but then click on supporting adverts. Subscriptions are for a range of 'services' including games, competitions and horoscopes.

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