Friday, May 8, 2015

Dear MUAs. Protect Your Numbers

Since most of our contact information is public knowledge (to be contacted by future clients, brides, etc), that means that being public info or easily acquired through directories, we must also be aware that there are people who really have nothing better to do and would just like to waste your time.

I had one incident when I got a call a few months back after a class. Even though the number is unsaved, I still answer because it might be a client. Turns out, the guy on the other line introduced himself as my friend with a new number and played the guessing game to me. He had a good English with good modulation, so I know it wasn't some random street person. I really hate playing guessing games because I really do not have time for that but he was like, "sige na, parang naman we're not friends" So listening to his voice carefully I asked if we were friends from work, pole, or yoga. After a pause, he mentioned yoga, and after guesswork, he said he was one of my co-yoga teacher friends. I asked why was his voice a bit lower, and he said he was feeling ill or just woke up. He told me about a personal problem he had in life that he was confused with. I didnt give much details about myself or personal experience relating to that problem. I would like to thank the self-help books I had to read regarding listening skills for making that conversation all about the person I was talking to. It really helped with my safety. Before ending the call, he said that he would call the following day. The following day, I missed his call since I had work but I sent him an SMS (still thinking that he was my friend from yoga) saying, "hey sorry I missed your call, what's up?" No reply. Then, I saw that yoga teacher friend of mine online and sent him a message in Facebook apologizing for not answering his call. That friend of mine in Facebook was like, "Hey, I never sent you a call." That's when I got creeped out. I asked him if the number that called me was his, and he said it wasn't and his real number is a postpaid line.

That number of the guy pretending to be my friend called me. And when I asked who this one was, he asked me, "Are you drunk?" My real friends know that I absolutely do not drink due to my alcohol intolerance and what more drink and be at a drunk state at high noon so I put the phone down and immediately blocked the number.  I also relayed the message to my real friend, who I met in person telling him that someone pretended to be him.

Just a while ago, I had a conversation via SMS with another friend of mine, who's a casting agent. Just a few seconds later, I got a call from another unsaved number. Another male voice, almost as low as my casting agent friend's. This time, I'm much smarter and asked who this one is. And he pretended that the signal in his other end was weak and I was like, "I want to know who you are. " and then he was like, "Why won't you guess?". I immediately thought this was the same guy pretending to be my yoga friend and about to pretend to be my friend from another field if I proceed with another guesswork. I placed the phone down. Just to be sure, I called my friends verifying if they did call me, and they said they didn't (yes, I really want to make sure ). I relayed to them what happened to me, that someone called me assuming a random friend's identity.

My work number is quite public information, and it's pretty easy to get. I'm in mailing lists of PR companies for work. I am in a wedding supplier directory. I've joined bridal fairs. But it's for work and for potential clients to reach me. My friends who I work with also reach me here to book me for shoots, invite me to events, or even to lunch. I'm sure it's the same for other suppliers and vendors out there.

Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to not reveal a lot of personal info, like current whereabouts or names or addresses. After the first call, I resolved to stop playing guessing games via phone. it may be bitchy but it's for my own protection.

Most of us suppliers and even bloggers have a lot of information that are public, or at least easily acquired. A blogger friend of mine was harassed by someone regarding his/her personal life via SMS, That's why we really can't keep a lot of things private. What we can do is filter what we post. It's good to not post photos of the exterior of where we live or tag the exact name of our village or condo in social media. If you can keep a separate number for work and another number for personal, do so, and only give out the personal number to close friends and family. Always ask who this person is whether texts or voice call, in case you get the experience that I had, is that the person assumed the identity of my yoga friend, which resulted in an awkward conversation after I met up with the real yoga friend of mine. The second call distinctly sounded like my casting agent friend,  I'm just paranoid that I counter-check and immediately alert my friend that someone stole his identity. That's how scams and text modus operandis work.

Also, trust your instinct. If you felt iffy about the conversation, message your friend in Facebook asking him or her if he or she did call you at this number. Never play guessing games and it's just right to ask who that person is through SMS or voice call,

Since it is a prepaid number, I don't know if they can actually be traced by the network and deactivated. I know we could only report spam messages to Globe but not calls like these.

To the person who called me, know that by not posting the two numbers you used, I am doing you a favor because it might be your own personal number and I don't want to embarrass you with your family and friends. You know who you are and do the rest of the world and yourself a favor and stop what you are doing. Being a makeup artist, my number is available on bridal supplier directories for work. You also pretended to be my friends, stealing their identities. and you almost had me fooled with the second one since you sounded almost as much as my friend. Judging from how you speak, you seem to have had good education. Please find a job that will occupy your time, help others by donating to charity, or talk to your family and real friends, those who know who you are. I have a life of my own that I want to live.

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