Beep-Beep Beep-Beep—my message tone woke me up at the middle of the night. It was a message from a very close friend. He wanted to warn me about a possible Pakistani hackers’ attempt to take over my cell phone. “Be careful if anyone calls you saying he is from mobile company and asks you to type #09 or #90. PLEASE DON’T DO. CUT THE CALL. This is an attempt of Pakistani terrorists to find out your sim card number and make use of it. It’s confirmed by NOKIA, MOTOROLA and can be verified from CNN website. Please forward to all…”
I was scared like hell. So now terrorists can access our phone also!! I tried doing an Aal Izz Well but my heart wasn’t fooled.
Hey wait a minute!!
I switched on my laptop. Ten minutes later I was smiling. I found what I was looking for. The Mail.I had received a mail some two weeks back with almost the same content as the above message, but with a slight variation. The mail warned me not to type #90 or #09 if someone calls and asks me to do so, otherwise they will have access to my phone and will make calls at my expense. It also stated that this has been confirmed by Nokia and can be verified from CNN.
By now I was sure that this was one of those hoax mails I was talking about in Reverse ATM PIN-Hoax or Truth. So I decided to verify it from the CNN website. The screenshot below shows the result of my search.
As you can see there is no news on dial #90 on the CNN website. I tried using different search queries but with the same result.
But wait!!We all must be aware of the phrase “No smoke without fire”. So let’s apply this phrase to our situation and see what the outcome is.
The mail/message has a pinch of truth in it.What this mail claims can actually happen, provided you are using PBX system. For those who don’t know, PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. This is used at places like hotels, hospitals, institutions etc. where you dial a number (generally #90 or #09) to get outside call. At such places if someone fools the operator into dialing this sequence, the outside line gets activated and the person can then make call at the expense of the PBX owner.
However if you dial this number from your cell phone or land line, nothing is going to happen- you might here a busy tone or number-does-not-exist message. I actually tried dialing it from my Nokia cell phone. When I dialed 90#, I got an error message saying “No number saved to SIM location 90”. On dialing the same number from my LG phone I got this-is-not-a-valid-number message.This doesn’t mean you start following whatever the person on the other side says when next time you get such a call.
The best practice to follow if you get a phone call from a stranger claiming to be from so-and-so company is to ask his number and name and then say that you’ll get back to him. After that, call that company and give them this person’s name and phone number to verify his credentials. And no matter what, never disclose your personal information and bank details to a stranger over phone. Remember banks or other companies will never ask you to divulge your confidential information over phone.
Better safe than sorry.
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