There are a great many things which I utterly detest about modern life but one of the more loathsome is the ability of advertisements to be sent direct to my pocket thanks to mobile technology. In the not-so-distant past these would have been presented by dodgy individuals in the street or by people wearing sandwich boards, which meant that one could simply despatch them with a swift punch in the face and move on, but now they are beamed through the airwaves from unseen hands in unmarked offices. Meanwhile, here I am with a can of petrol, a box of matches and nowhere to go.
These are some examples of the unsolicited messages that I’ve recently received:
Hi Fles, if you’ve received this text, 100% approval on payday loans under £650, no paperwork, cash today at 666cashline reply STOP LOAN 2stop
Fles Payday TopUps Up To £1000!! Existing Payday Loans No Problem, No Docs or Checks Reqd. at 666cashline Rply STOP LOAN ToStop
Our records indicate you may be entitled to £3750 for the accident you had. To apply free reply CLAIM to this message. To opt out text STOP
Due to a new legislation, those struggling with debt can now apply to have it written off. For Free information reply INFO or to opt out text stop. Free text!
Obviously I’m not going to reply to any of these with STOP because one must never reveal that a number is still live to one of these vultures. The second two advertisements have proved untraceable, because they are linked to anonymous mobile numbers, but they’re obviously just the lowest of the low feeding on misery by adding to it. However, 666cashline (name ever-so-slightly changed to prevent me being sued) has a plethora of websites associated with it which have, curiously, almost no information on them. Indeed, the interest rate is almost impossible to find, although it is there if you look hard enough. It’s 2,617.2% APR. I know, how do they make a profit? You can find the figure almost entirely concealed by the swirly background graphic at the bottom of the page for 666paydayloans.co.uk (I’ll be damned if I’m linking them) which also features pictures of happy, smiling people and a small, ill-thought-out cartoon of what appears to be a smiling bailiff wielding a truncheon.
In fact, 666payday is a loan-shark broker under the umbrella of quidsin (name slightly modified again, just in case), which is part of the misery industry dedicated to Cash Utilisation Not Through Saving. The only difference between these swindlers and traditional loan sharks is that you give them direct access to your bank account when you sign up.
That these people are utter bastards of the highest order (go on, sue me for libel if you can locate a court who might find against me) is made absolutely clear in their Terms & Conditions, which contains these gems (quoted verbatim):
• We may also sell your data (or otherwise pass it on) to selected third parties who may use it to contact you by post, telephone, email, SMS or other reasonable method in relation to offers they feel might interest you, whether or not we enter into an agreement with you. In addition, we may disclose your personal information to a third party:
• Because we work with some carefully selected partners outside of the UK – in order to offer you our loans service – we may also need to transfer your personal information abroad, to countries whose data protection laws are less strict than in the UK. If and whenever this is the case, we will ensure the information is held securely to standards as least as good as those in the UK and is only used for the purposes set out in this policy.
• By submitting an application form through this site, you agree that Quidsin can contact you from time to time by post, fax, telephone or other electronic means, to tell you about other products and services, offered by ourselves or other carefully selected companies, that we believe would be of interest to you. We may also pass your information to third party financial services companies for the purpose of them telling you about their services or products.
Effectively, this says that they can do pretty much whatever they like with your data. Make no mistake, you can and will be sold over and over again.
The company’s blurb tries to entice other loan-sharks to sign up to their brokerage with “By embracing these offers and testing them you will quickly see how these added value verticals all add to your bottom line.” I have my own suggestion for an added-value vertical:
Sometimes I struggle to write about people who I despise in an inoffensive manner but that’s not going to be an issue in this case because I’m not even going to try. These organisations are utter scum of the very rankest kind who are pretending to offer help to the desperate when, in actuality, they’re just going in for the kill. That this form of direct-marketing is even permissible is offensive and wrong: it preys on the weak and the desperate and it strikes me as being exactly the sort of thing that the Advertising Standards Authority is supposed to prevent. And if that isn’t their job, it bloody well ought to be.