Cell phones are used for a lot more than making calls these days. We listen to music, keep track of our schedules and, of course, surf the internet using mobile browsers. Naturally, criminals see this as an opportunity to tap into our personal information.
An article published by CBC demonstrated how risky it can be to hand out our cell phone numbers without considering the ramifications. Cell phone numbers are being used as identification on some websites and, in some circumstances, is almost as good as a credit card.
Canadians are reporting that they’ve been tricked into signing up for high-priced text message services that cost as much as $5 per text simply by entering the phone number when using games and quizzes.
David Fewer, the director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic drove the point home. "We give out our cellphone numbers willy-nilly. This is information that is not treated with particular sensitivity," said Fewer. "I don't think most cellphone users think that their wireless service provider is going to act as a middle man [in these premium texting schemes]," said Fewer.
In Europe they are already using cell phone numbers to pay for things like parking and restaurant bills, so it’s only a matter of time before we see that in Canada. Sites such as MobileGivings.ca even allow Canadians to donate to charities using their cell phone numbers, and I can see how that could easily be exploited.
As Marc Choma, a spokesman for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, put it, "your cell number is really a personal piece of information and your cellphone is more than a phone. It's a computer in your hand."