Identity theft is a growing problem, and a top reason I do not publish my cellphone number or put anything intensely personal, like private family photos, on any public social media outlet such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, where anything I post is exclusively work related (I communicate privately with my family by telephone and email).
So you can imagine my surprise when I received a text from somebody I do not know to my cellphone number that is not public. Here’s how my privacy was invaded, and why there is little or nothing you or I can do about it:
My cellphone carrier – who I will not name, for privacy reasons – told me that once you install an app on your cellphone — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tublr, Digg, whatever — anybody anytime anywhere can access you via the cellphone number on which you downloaded that app, whether you actively use the app or not, or keep the cellphone number private or not.
Wait, there’s more. Even without downloading somebody’s app, even if your cellphone number is not published anywhere for any reason, if you make a call from your cellphone to anybody anytime anywhere, they will be able to text you, like somebody I phoned recently from an airport while waiting for a flight. Unfortunately, now that this person has my cellphone number, his office has been communicating with me by text, rather than via landline or email, which is my stated preference.
That is appalling. It negates all the layers I added — or thought I added — to protect my privacy and separate my personal and professional lives. Phone anybody anytime anywhere from your cellphone, and even though you never ever gave them your cellphone number, they now have the ability and the right to ignore your personal preferences — including those on record in their offices in the pages and pages you filled out to give them your life history — to communicate with you however they like, not how you like.
Just so you know — text messages are now BLOCKED on my smartphone. Anybody who texts me will be a message that says “unable to deliver” or something similar.
You can reach me through any of my eight email addresses, or two phone numbers, including directly through this website. We can live chat on Google+, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime and iChat. You can reach me directly via DM on Twitter. That’s more than enough ways to reach me. I don’t need or want text.
So, from here going forward, if you text me at my non-published cellphone number, you’ll get a message that your message was not delivered.
Here are the instructions my carrier gave me to block texts to my non-published cellphone number coming through Twitter –
- Log in to your Twitter account.
- Click the person icon at the top right corner of the navigation bar and select Settings from the drop-down menu.
- Click on the Mobile tab.
- If your mobile phone number has already been added to your account you will see a Delete my phone link under the Save button (shown below.)
- Click the Delete my phone link and the mobile number will be removed from your Twitter account.
- After you have removed your mobile number, the screen will give you the option to connect a new mobile number to your account.
- Follow these instructions if you’d like to add a new mobile number.
That’s a whole lot of work to un-allow something I never allowed to begin with. And I’m suspecting it’s the same problem to dis-connect my unlisted cellphone number from Faacebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, ad nauseum.
And here’s a public note to the Federal Trade Commisson – fix this.
What’s you opinion?