If you are a postpaid mobile phone client and you get a message saying you are going to get a discount in your monthly bill, don’t start thanking God yet for your good fortune. Check with your network to make sure the message is legitimate.
I got this message recently on my mobile: “Globe: You’re the one selected postpaid plan given 35-percent discount billing, to get your 35-percent discount billing, just text 150 send to 29065035144. Thank you Globe postpaid subscriber.”
Several things made me have second thoughts about the message, after the initial excitement. For one thing, it came from a regular mobile phone number. Network people have repeatedly told me that legitimate announcements/alerts coming from them are sent from three- or four-digit numbers.
Bad grammar was another give-away. Messages from networks are not this badly constructed. I also could not understand the number 150. If it represented the discount I was supposed to get then it was way below the actual amount.
I verified with Globe the legitimacy of the message and, as I suspected, it was another scam, although they did not explain how it was supposed to work. I was thinking that by texting 150 I would be transferring that much load to the message sender.
Globe immediately disconnected the line. Of course, the scam artist will probably just get a new number.
Aside from alerting your network, you may also want to bring suspicious messages like this to the attention of the National Telecommunication Commission’s One-Stop Public Assistance Center (Ospac). It may be reached at telephone numbers 9213251 and 9267722.
NTC-OSPAC occasionally sends out reminders to the public not to believe messages asking for load, cash, bank account numbers and other sensitive information. It may want to add this new scam to its next reminders.
Incidentally, after last week’s column came out, Globe called to explain how data sent to mobile phones—such as e-mail—were charged. It seems that e-mail is charged according to the size of the message, including attachments. So, even if you do not use your phone for anything else other than to keep track of your mailboxes, your bill can shoot up if you are regularly receiving large files.
I guess the moral of the story is to program your mobile to receive only messages for the mailbox that is of greatest importance to you. You can check your other mailboxes in your computer or use WiFi, if you want to reduce your mobile Internet charges.
Ravi Singh is another mobile phone user who says he is being charged for Internet, “which I absolutely do not use.” He refuses to pay the charges although he says stress caused by the bill and demand letters from lawyers are causing harm to the public.
He hopes that a legislator will also suffer from “bill shock” so the problem will get his/her attention. I doubt though that legislators get to see their bills to experience shock. I am also sure they do not pay personally for their phone use and pass on the charges to ordinary taxpayers.
Another “shocked” mobile phone user is Don V. Espino, who has a Blackberry. He also does not have a Facebook or Twitter account, although he subscribes to Blackberry Messenger. With smartphones becoming so widely used, he wishes government regulators will now look into how networks charge clients for their use.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]