Mobile phones numbers on demand – I can smell the spam!

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I heard on the radio this morning that there is a new phone directory service that lets you connect with people via their mobile phone number. The gist on the radio was “what if you forget a number? The you can go to 118800 and get it back”.

How it works

It works like this, you put in a name and a town then hit search. If someone with this data matches up to your search then an SMS goes out to them with your details and you get charged £1.00. With the contact information going out to the person you are trying to contact rather than you then it lets them contact you if they want to.

Ok, so it sounds a good idea if you assume that only friends will be searching for each other but looking at their site this morning it seems incredibly easy for anyone to stick you name and town into the seach and try to make contact and I wonder at how accurate the service is (I’m not on to the security yet…). I did a very quick search for ‘rew’ ‘rew’ and location ‘rew’  (for a random search) and got the ‘we think we’ve found them’ result where I just needed to put in more information. I can’t tell you if this works as I received an error page.

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The small print

Moving on, I immediately thought that I would like to know where my data was, who would have access to it, would it cost me if someone was looking for me etc.  Apparantly our data is safe. No one under 18 will be listed and accoring to their FAQ’s they ‘think it’s unlikely you will receive many sales calls via our service’ (the ‘think’ in that answer doesn’t reassure me though).

Another point that worried me is that in the FAQ’s there are prices for sending requests but no mention of whether going ex-directory would cost me anything other than standard network rates (plus that takes 4 weeks which is a long time to be removed from something you didn’t want in the first place).

Opt in by choice?

While I think this service could be a good idea (say if you lost your mobile phone) I think it would gain a lot more trust if it was an opt-in service rather than a ‘you have no chice to begin with’ service. Personally I don’t care what ‘regulatory servces’ they have worked with to set up this concept, to me it’s just another way that I will be getting spammy phonecalls (as if we don’t get enough in our office already!) I never give out my mobile unless it’s to someone I trust and the very fact that it could be stored on this site and potentially accessed does not sit easy with me.

The site says the following about the collection of the numbers so it will be intersting to try seraching for myself (I never give permission for my number to be used for anything as it’s the one thing that I can be sure I don’t get spammed on, unlike my email address!):

Our mobile phone directory is made up from various sources. Generally it comes from companies who collect mobile telephone numbers from customers in the course of doing business and have been given permission by the customers to share those numbers.

Hold the boat!

I just carried out a search for myself (which worked this time) and got the message below. Guess who’s not a happy bunny…

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  1. Just for the record everyone, Lynne is the most cautious person with her details, particularly to do with unwanted phonecalls and would never have opted in to allow her data to be shared (trust me I’ve heard her give companies trouble for calling her house when she’s “On TPS and shouldn’t be calling me…”).

    So this blows the permission based claim of the service out the water!