Bizarre SMS flood hits user

Your smartphone can be spammed with SMS messages to the point that it significantly affects battery life, Jan Gutter has discovered in the past week.

Gutter said he has been receiving text messages from Standard Bank since Tuesday, 12 November 2013 telling him he’s logged into his account.

The problem? He’s not a Standard Bank customer. That and he received a message almost every minute on average.

According to Gutter, by 16:38 on Thursday, 21 November 2013, he had received 11,479 messages; roughly 48 messages per hour (0.8 per minute).

The deluge not only left him “slightly frazzled”, Gutter said, but also essentially unable to use SMS as a communications mechanism on his phone.

When the SMS spam first started, Gutter said he contacted the Standard Bank call centre, where he was assured that the issue would be handed off to the technical department.

“The next day, the nightmare started,” Gutter said. “The SMSes started coming every 45 seconds and kept coming.”

He phoned the call centre again, spent more time on hold and eventually got cut off, Gutter said.

Since then he has repeatedly tried to get support from Standard Bank, sending at least 6 e-mails, making 3 phone calls, and posting on HelloPeter.com.

His complaint on HelloPeter eventually resulted in a return call from Standard Bank, whose first reaction was that his number might be linked to one of their customer’s accounts.

“This argument was patently laughable,” Gutter said. “It would mean that a user is trying to log in to their account every 45 seconds.”

Gutter was then offered an alternative explanation: that someone else has the same number as he does.

How this would cause the problem he is experiencing isn’t clear, and Gutter said he found this alternate reason as implausible as the first.

Smartphone angry
“Shut up already!”

After some days had passed, Gutter said he received a call from Standard Bank saying that they have identified the issue as an error on their system.

The issue would only be passed on to Standard Bank’s technical team “later this week” (18–22 November 2013), Gutter said a bank customer service representative told him.

In the meantime, Gutter has capitalised on one of the benefits of using an Android smartphone and has switched to using the new Google Hangouts application to handle his SMS messages.

This lets him mute certain numbers, but unfortunately doesn’t help save his battery, which Gutter says only lasted half a day while the stream of messages poured in.

While not ideal, Gutter said he also eventually asked Vodacom to block the three numbers from which he was receiving this torrent of SMS messages.

This could prevent legitimate transaction messages sent to him from Standard Bank customers, Gutter said, but by this stage it was a side-effect he was willing to live with.

On the morning of Friday, 22 November 2013, Gutter said that it seemed as though the SMS messages had stopped the previous afternoon at 16:38.

Standard Bank claimed responsibility for eventually stopping the SMS flood, saying that one of their customers seemed to have put the wrong number in their online banking profile.

According to the bank the problem is not with their systems, but possibly on their client’s PC which appears to be constantly logging into and out of Standard Bank’s online banking system.

A spokesperson for the bank told MyBroadband that they are trying to contact their client to let them know about the problem.

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Bizarre SMS flood hits user