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All in the family scam

lifestyle / Columns
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The Consumer

All in the family scam

If “lola” was not able to get you to send P300 worth of phone load after she “mistakenly” sent you what was intended for her “apo,” I hope you also do not get taken in by your “child’s” request for phone load.

I got this message the other day: “Ma’ paloadan mo ang number na to ng P300. Importante lang po nasa akin ang bayad ibigay ko na lang sa inyo pag uwi ko Ma.” (Sic)

It was easy for me to ignore the message since I do not have a child, but I wonder how many mothers were sufficiently concerned to do as asked.

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‘Alarming news’

Last year, two women I know received even more alarming news. One was told her daughter was in a hospital and had lost her phone. The caller said the daughter was asking the mother to send phone load to the unfamiliar number so she could call.

The other was informed her son was involved in an accident on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and also could not use his phone. He was asking his mother to send phone load to the number used to inform the mother of her son’s accident.

Both mothers, fortunately, had the presence of mind to try to confirm the news they received before sending the requested load.

The girl’s mother learned her daughter was in a meeting at her office and could not be disturbed. The other mother talked to her son and found out he was nowhere near NLEX but was somewhere in Makati.

The moral lesson here is that scam artists, whose cheap thrill is to con people to give them phone load, practice two of the three Rs of environmentalism, Reuse and Recycle. They reuse and recycle scams that have been going around for years, with slight variations.

This is also true for the so-called Nigerian scam that started through snail mail. Now I get letters from bankers or government officials in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, the Middle East and several other places—all of them eager to share with me some strongman’s loot or clients’ unclaimed deposits, convinced that I am an honest, trustworthy person who will use the money for the common good, although all they know about me is my e-mail address.

Campaign vs text scams

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has expressed its support for Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo’s campaign against fraudulent text messages, which “threaten  the safety and security of the public.” Quimbo asked for the NTC’s help after his name was used in messages involving fake raffles.

The messages, which have also used the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Malacañang and various foundations, tell people they have won in raffles supposedly conducted by these institutions.

What I find strange from the messages I get is that I never win the first prize. I always get the second prize. While I receive these messages with amusement, sometimes annoyance, some people actually believe them.

A reader once asked me how he could claim his prize from BSP. His mobile phone number was supposedly drawn in a raffle.

I asked him if he had ever had to deal with BSP. He had not. So, my next question was: How can BSP have your mobile phone number if you have not had any dealings with it?

I hoped my comments made him realize there was something fishy about the message, but it could have been wishful thinking. Some people believe what they want to believe.

No expiry cards

I read a media report about a bill that seeks to eliminate expiration dates for phone cards.  I hope it becomes a law.

Many companies give employees phone cards to use for business calls and text messages. The phone cards are paid for by the companies. But many frugal users end up with expired cards. The money used to pay for those cards has no expiration date, so why can’t people keep them until they need them?

 Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City. 

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TAGS: Consumer, Lifestyle, load, phone, scam, Text Scam
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