Getting strange messages on your new (recycled) number? Wendy Knowler follows up
Most of us have a Mobile Station International Subscriber Director Number, or MSISDN.
That's what mobile operators call our cellphone numbers.
They tend to become part of our identity, so losing your number can be a wrench, not to mention the hassle of updating all your contacts with your new digits.
You can lose it if you don't pay your mobile provider what you owe.
If you don't use your phone for a few months you also lose your number, cautions consumer ninja Wendy Knowler.
Industry standard is three months. Vodacom gives you four months of inactivity - so that's no loading of data, no calls, no SMSs, nothing.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
When providers take your number back they usually pass it on to someone else.
These numbers have to be recycled because, as MTN puts it, "MSISDNs are a scarce national resource".
If you inherit someone else’s number it can cause all sorts of problems though.
Knowler follows up on the case of a mum who finally allowed her daughter a mobile phone at the age of 12, long after her peers had gotten theirs.
The pre-teen's delight was shortlived however, as she was inundated with messages and even calls for someone called "Florah".
These included marketing offers, companies looking for payment and whatsapps from someone who addressed her as "baby".
MTN confirmed that the number in question was indeed a recycled number and promised to supply the young girl with a new one.
Knowler is following up with the Information Regulator about the implications of inadvertently sharing personal information in a case like this under the Popi Act.
She also details the case study of a self-employed woman whose number was deleted from the network when she was unable to stick to her arrears payment arrangement with Vodacom.
Listen to the discussion on The Money Show:
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