Talk About A Bad Idea

All this past week, stories have been popping up about how, soon, everyone will be using their phone to pay for purchases. What a fabulously lousy idea.

I’m immediately reminded of the online scams that took place during the modem era of communications. You’d be given a number to call, and it would actually be some sort of scam. The local number would connect to a BBS of some sort which would send a code back to the modem to turn off the speaker, so you couldn’t hear the modem disconnect and then redial a number in Bulgaria or some obscure island. You’d then be connected to a phone service that charged $100/minute for the connection. After racking up thousands and thousand of dollars in phone costs, you’d get the bill from your phone company for $30,000.

You’d bitterly complain about the bill—these stories were all over the news during this era—but the phone companies said they couldn’t do anything about the charges. The rates were protected by some U.S. treaty scammed together by the phone companies and signed into law. There was nothing they could do! So, you had to pay or lose your phone service and be sued in court.

This was unbelievable.

I’ve always been convinced this was test marketing to show the banks and everyone that the phone companies were the best collection agencies and should be in charge of your credit card and other transactions. After all, you can stall the bank, and what can they really do, anyway? You stall the phone company and you are disconnected from the world.

Yeah, I’d trust the phone company with my wallet. Not. I will never use my phone for that sort of thing. I am already very leery about how potentially devastating losing my phone would be. I do worry about the security of the Android operating system (and puh-lease, do not start going on about how secure the Apple system is – or any other OS. All are vulnerable to social engineering attacks, which is the wave of the future that is already here).

The minute your phone company has your wallet, you will lose important protections that banks have built-in. And no, I do not trust Washington to legislate good protections for dumb phone users. They haven’t so far. Why would they start now?

If your life revolves around your phone, you don’t have a life. If you trust the phone company with your money, you won’t have any of that, either.

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One Response to Talk About A Bad Idea

  1. Maggie says:

    Gaius –

    Just a sidebar note here …

    People should beware of those TV “trial offers” too. About a year ago I ordered something off a TV ad with a ‘trial offer’ and ‘no obligation’, just pay for S/H.

    Product came doubled with a bill (and an outrageous price for the product).

    Person on the other end of the phone never told me the trial offer would have a first month’s order, or that by accepting the trial offer I was signing onto a membership to the mail order company and would be sent the product every month.

    I went online and discovered a plethora of complaints about this company about this very practice.

    Anyone seeing some ad on TV or hearing them on radio, please check online for complaints about the product and/or the company. Some how they are getting away with a lot of bait and switch.

    After demanded they drop my un-agreed to membership and threatened legal action if I ever saw a charge I didn’t personally make on my card. Sent back the part of the order I did NOT agree to, telling them they had better consider it a done deal by my standards. After 30 minutes of b*tching they agreed.

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