The Mysterious SMS

(Tackling SPAM on mobile phones is much tougher than tackling them on normal emails. Image source: http://androidboss.com)

If you glance through your SMSes received, you will notice that one of the biggest spammers around is our own telcos.

Jeff Ooi first talked about SMS scams way back in 2007 but that affected mostly the prepaid users (primarily because they don’t have itemized billing and so the leeching away of the money went almost unnoticed). And then as more users became aware and started to make noise about it, that SMS scams somehow died out (at least on the surface).

Over the years and until today, we have been bugged with countless spams from our own telcos. I get more SMS spams from Maxis and by unknown 3rd party providers than real SMSes from friends and family and these spams quickly choke my phone inbox. SMSes on new services, new telco service centers, new songs, new games package, sports update, etc.

I curse the spammers as I spend precious time to clear away the “good for nothing” SMSes from my inbox. I wonder why Maxis can’t just move these “advertisements” from the SMSes to the itemized billing (which they charge me for). And if I need anything more information, I can always hop over to the internet. I don’t need a constant reminder via SMS too!

So, it has been almost a routine for me to get spams from Maxis or from unknown senders and me spending time to clear these spams away.

That is until recently, I saw an unfamiliar SMS in my inbox – what caught my eyes was the words “RM5.00”. It was worded (damn! talk about incomplete sentences) as:-

RM5.00 bos atau saudara rawatan unggul seperti itu, tetapi juga menyokong kemenangan untuk mendapatkan para manula ini melakukan

RM5.00 Prestasi kemampuan komunikasi saat ini sangat penting

Until now, I get unfamiliar SMSes but it is often stated as “RM0.00”. So, when it shows RM5.00, somehow I got this feeling that this SMS was not free. It was for RM5.00 and I got 3 other similar SMS. At that time, I felt RM20.00 had simply vanished from my pockets. I know I did not subscribe to these SMSes and the content of the SMSes did not make any sense. But somehow I know that they were charging me RM5.00 for each SMS. Have I been scammed by some ruthless spammers?

I decided to wait for the next day before I make the case against Maxis and get them to block these spammers (and perhaps in the process, block themselves too). I was angry for the unfair treatment that I was getting from my telco when it comes to paid SMSes. That is until my wife asked me what had happened and told me on what had really happened, rather sheepishly.

She was playing with my phone and somehow, accidentally subscribed to some horoscope SMS service. And she forgot to inform me. Mystery solved! We looked at each other – me, wondering how she could have done accidentally and she, worried that I would be angry with the paid SMS. I may have lost RM20.00 but I managed to contain the damage. Anyway lessons learned – there are not many things in this world that is free. Good thing was I managed to unsubscribe the SMS service and the daily RM5.00 per SMS service was stopped on its tracks.

Now for the spam SMSes from own telcos…wonder when that will end? I am tired of recovering back my inbox.

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