A total of 39,100 text messages were sent by Capita on behalf of the Government as part of a contract to track down about 58,800 people who may not have the right to live in the UK. Between December 2012 and June this year, 143 complaints were received in relation to texts and other communications, of which 14 were found to have been made in error.
The text message reads: "Message from the Home Office. Our records show that you may not have leave to remain in the UK. Please contact us on 0844 3754636 to discuss your case."
A Home Office spokesman said: "We are taking proactive steps to contact individuals who records show they have no valid right to be in the UK, some of which date back to December 2008. We believe it is right to enforce the immigration rules.
"Anyone contacted in error has been asked to get in touch with Capita to update their records."
David Hanson MP, Labour's shadow immigration minister, said: "These messages will rightly cause distress and offence to British citizens, many of whom have done much to contribute to our society. It is simply wrong for this sort of message to be sent by text, and to be so poorly targeted."
A Capita spokeswoman said: "The number of complaints received to date about erroneous contact has been negligible."