Thursday, January 22, 2009

Viral e-mail rant

I was reading through my e-mails this morning when I came across one from an acquaintance with a subject line that ominously read, "Cell Phone Numbers Go Public Next Week". Curiosity got the best of me, so I opened it up and saw this:

Cell phone numbers will be released to telemarketing companies next month! Get on the "Do Not Call" list.

Cell Phone "Do Not Call" list REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls.


To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222 ..
It is the National DO NOT CALL list . It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

My very first thought was, "this sounds like complete bullshit." So I spent all of 30 seconds looking it up on "The Google" and discovered that this e-mail has been circulating the Internets in various forms since 2004.

It really amazes me that otherwise intelligent people still fall for this kind of crap. Ok, I admit that I did fall for one of these once years ago when I received an e-mail from a friend that stated confidently that all e-mails would be taxed starting next month because the USPS had to make up for lost revenue because the Internet was taking their business and everyone needed to call/write their congressperson to complain, and then forward the message to everyone they knew. So naturally, I contacted my congressman, who replied within minutes with a form letter that stated,
You know that saying about a sucker being born every minute? Go take a look in the mirror. SUCKER!! It's no wonder that schmucks like me can keep getting elected to do the bidding of corporate and foreign interests at your expense. You'll believe anything! I'll bet you're still waiting for that check from Bill Gates and think that Nostrodamus predicted 9/11.
Ok, I am taking some license with the response, but that was the gist.

Any of you who have been forced -- through threat of termination -- to take an online computer security course by your employer will immediately suspect this to be an instance of social engineering. In this particular case, you would be right.

The originator creates a plausible-sounding story and sends it to his friends, counting on the fact that recipients will see that it is from a friend and think, "well this is from so-and-so and s/he would nevah evah lie 2 me, so it must be legit. OH NOES!!!1!ELEVEN!!! These telemarketing bastiges will be calling me all the time now, even when I'm trying to have teh sexOrz!! And I'm going to get charged for it!! I'd better do what it says and then send this to all my bestest friends and relatives so they can be prepared, too, ZOMG!!!!"

Please, the next time you get an e-mail that makes some outlandish claim and ends with a request that you forward it to your friends, take a few seconds to verify it. Just Google the subject line. You'll save yourself from feeling like an idiot after you've sent it to 100 people if it turns out to be a hoax.

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