The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has claimed "significant progress" is being made in finding out those responsible for sending spam text messages, as new research released by the watchdog highlighted the distress that such messages can cause.
The ICO said it began its investigation into accident claim spam texts and other messages in early 2011 and found that many were being sent from unregistered pay-as-you-go SIM cards.
The data protection watchdog worked with bodies including the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom, the Office of Fair Trading, the Direct Marketing Association and mobile phone networks to pinpoint the source of such messages.
So far the ICO said it had executed one search warrant and plans more in the future, and is also seeking reassurances from lead generation and claims management companies that their customer data has been obtained legally.
"We've been doing some important work to engage with insurance companies and are pleased that some of them are willing to undergo a data protection audit. We continue to work to encourage more of these companies to open their doors to us," said the ICO's director of operations, Simon Entwisle.
"This is an ongoing challenge; we have a good idea about who is behind the messages and we continue to gather evidence to enable us to take enforcement action. So far these individuals have managed to cover their tracks but we'd encourage anyone with information to come forward."
Entwisle added that raising public awareness was key, especially in letting people know that they should never text back to any of the randomly generated messages, even if encouraged to text "STOP".
The ICO also released new research on Thursday highlighting the anti-social nature of the texts.
Some 95 per cent of those surveyed said they find the texts either "inconvenient, concerning or distressing".
Phil Muncaster is news editor at V3.co.uk, a role he has fulfilled since January 2010. Previously he was chief reporter for IT Week, having also worked as a reporter and senior reporter on the publication from 2005.
Before IT Week, Phil worked as a researcher for the Rough Guide. Prior to his work in journalism, Phil spent three years teaching English in Japan.