What’s wrong with a text message?

Last month operators in the Middle East issued warning about a series of scams targeting customers via their mobile phones

Tags: United Arab Emirates
  • E-Mail
By  George Bevir Published  March 4, 2009

Last month operators in the Middle East issued warning about a series of scams targeting customers via their mobile phones.

Some involved the harvesting of a customer’s valuable personal information through a phone call, while others used text messages that promised large prizes, with ‘winners’ encouraged to call a number to collect their prize.

Once the call had been made, the unsuspecting victim’s phone line could then be hijacked by fraudsters and used to make costly long distance calls.

When such trickery is dissected and discussed it can be difficult to believe that people would fall for the scams. But now, more than ever, people want to save money, and the lure of a gift seems to have been enough to turn a sceptic into a naïve victim.

In part, the invasion of our mobile devices by spam messages is to blame. While we expect to see adverts when we watch TV or look at the internet, mobile phones used to be the most personal of screens. But now mobile users have become inured to their mobiles being used as just another marketing tool, with customers subjected to a steady stream of unsolicited texts offering cheap shoes, cheap haircuts and cheap holidays. Instead of it seeming out of the ordinary, users come to accept that random organisations are using contacting them on their mobile.

When operators in the region realised the scams were on the increase they issued warnings, either posted on their websites or through press releases. The media fulfilled its role by reporting on the warnings and informing the public, but not all mobile users in the region read itp.net or the local papers.

Operators could have done more to warn customers. Rather than use the circuitous route of press releases and statements, why not use the same medium as the scammers? The only definite way to reach a mobile subscriber is, after all, via their mobile phone.

Operators have no qualms about sending text messages with advice on how to save money with their latest product or special offer, and they should use the same method to tell customers to be on their guard when they know that people out there trying to defraud them.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code