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Fraud comes to WhatsApp: nearly half of OTT messaging app users receive spam every week

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The world’s consumers are embracing OTT messaging apps – but so are the fraudsters. A new study finds that 26% of chat app users get an unsolicited message every day, while 49% receive at least one a week.

The research confirmed that spam still affects SMS more than chat apps, but not by much. More than a quarter of consumers (28%) receive an unsolicited SMS message every day with 58% report receiving one every week.

The findings come from the Mobile Messaging Fraud Report 2016, published by global trade body Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) and messaging specialist CLX Communications.

It asked 6000 consumers in nine countries about their experiences of and attitudes towards fraud, spam, SMiShing (SMS phishing), across both SMS and chat apps.

The majority said unsolicited mobile messages are mostly just a nuisance – notifying them of an un-wanted offer or service . However 33% said that they had received a SMiShing message aiming to trick them into disclosing personal data such as bank details or passwords for online services.

SMiShing is one of 11 types of messaging fraud identified by MEF’s Mobile Messaging Working Group. It estimates that SMiShing alone contributes $680 million to the annual $2 billion fraud cost currently borne by mobile operators and consumers.

The report reveals that consumers still value enterprise messaging despite the challenges and consumers trust SMS more than messaging apps. 35% said it was their most trusted channel, 28% trust messaging apps the most and only 18% chose platforms such as Facebook, Yahoo and Skype.

The study is part of MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme. It aims to create awareness and develop industry best practice in messaging in order to clean up the market and help it to grow sustainably.

Robert Gerstmann, Managing Director of CLX says: “The report confirms the fact that Enterprise to consumer messaging can be an incredibly powerful tool provided that consumers continue to trust the messages they receive.  The eco-system including carriers,  OTT app providers and cloud communication providers must continue to work together to combat fraud and ensure trust is maintained within these channels.“

Joanne Lacey, COO at MEF adds: “Mobile users love chat apps and SMS. Sadly, fraudsters seem to love them too. Whether it’s a nuisance text or a serious attempt to elicit personal information, it all eats away at consumer trust. MEF’s report shows how important it is as an industry we work together to combat fraud and ensure clean and secure channels for customer engagement.”

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