During last November i got several messages from a few of my hotmail buddies, inviting me to the community. As a big fan of Orkut, I thought i could join this one too.

Hmm, but first things first, and let’s try google this thing.
Some quick browsing and i became aware that this one is not quite black and white. It comes in various shades of grey, namely:

  • How dumb can you be ? During the sign-up process, you are asked your Hotmail username and password. And believe it or not, a lots of people actually did it, compromising their security and giving away other people’s personal adresses without their knowledge. Then again, why don’t you give them your bank account number, credit card or your teddy bear. I’m sure this way you’ll get even more free sms messages.
  • Get spam 4 free. Of course this scheme/scam as a purpose, and it probably serves its purposes as an harvesting technique to get email and phone numbers for unethical commercial practices, a.k.a spam. So don’t be surprised if you get you email or mobile inbox a bit flooded with unwanted messages.
  • It isn’t really free. Despite the fact they don’t ask for any credit card number, that doesn´t mean that you don’t agree to be charged on you phone bill. Refer to their Terms of Service or Service Agreement and be sure you understand these facts. And expect to see thes schemes in other services, so please be careful to read those tiny words or you’ll end up with an extra phone bills at the end of the month.
  • Get ready for even more spam. The trick here is the so called “Premium SMS”, belonging to the same family of mobile services as seen in TV contests or magazine promotions. This would all be fine if we had a transparent process, and we all were aware of the risks/opportunities we enroll when aplliying. But most of the time it’s all very misty and vague, so you end up receiving unsolicited mobile messages when and from you least expected.

So what can we do? Not signing-up, unsubscribing or some spam blocking solution are the clearest exits, but i’m afraid we’ll see much more of these scams. Stay tuned for next chapters, as the Premium SMS startups grow.

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