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SA’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) advises mobile users that they should expect to receive educational SMS (Short Message Service) text messages to do with the current COVID-19 emergency.

“Aside from expecting these messages disseminated by the country’s mobile network operators (MNOs) and wireless application service providers (WASPs), mobile consumers should also be aware that they cannot opt-out of these vital communications,” says Ilonka Badenhorst, General Manager of WASPA.

Government has mandated that MNOs, in particular, should twice daily transmit educational text messages relating to combatting the current pandemic.

In this regard, WASPA draws the public’s attention to Clause 17.3 of the WASPA Code of Conduct: “Members are not obliged to honour an opt-out or block request for communications required by law.”

Under powers granted to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) in terms of the Disaster Management Act, and which were published earlier this week, MNOs are required to send “at least two public announcements per day regarding the prevention and management of COVID-19”.

Unfortunately, it is likely that fraudsters will attempt to take advantage of the requirement to transmit text messages related to COVID-19.

Therefore, WASPA advises SA’s mobile users to exercise caution and their own common sense when receiving any message on their mobiles related to the virus.

For instance, legitimate educational text messages will never request any personal or financial information from the receiver. In addition, any links that may be included within government-mandated text messages will almost always only redirect to government-sanctioned COVID-19 resources such as www.SAcoronavirus.co.za.

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