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Funny thing happened today. My car insurance expired, so I called my insurance company (RESO) from my cellphone. Nobody answered my call, it was Friday evening after all, so I hung up and decided to call them on Monday.
A few hours later, I received a text-message:
For those of you who can’t read Russian, it’s an advert from INHELP, a different insurance company offering its services. The message came from PROMO — the official MegaFon advertising channel.
At first I thought it was a coincidence, so I asked my wife to dial the same number and moments later she gets the exact same text advert!
I wouldn’t consider this a big deal if I had registered on some website online and given them my phone number. I would actually expect them to sell the number to third-party advertisers, but this is different.
Here’s what I think: MegaFon Moscow, one of the three largest network operators in Russia, is not only selling my phone number to advertisers, but also the fact that a phone call was made to a certain number. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if a recording of the phone call was also handed over.
Talk about privacy.
My understanding is that GSM security is utter crap, so perhaps they may be just scanning for all calls to a specific number, then decrypting your phone number and sending you a response accordingly.
I’m not sure how viable that is, but you can pull that data out if you need to apparently.
Yeah, there are several alternatives I can think of, including ones that Rarst mentioned on Twitter. But the fact that the advert comes from MegaFon’s official ads channel makes me think they’re somehow involved, even though they decline it.