Sunday, February 05, 2023 | Rajab 13, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Mistaken and unmistaken identities

Life is tough and I can understand the stress level. But my curiosity in this mistaken identity could not be held back any longer and so sent another question, 'How did you get my number?'

In the midst of hectic schedule and deadlines the phone beeps with a message notification indicating a voice message. And I think to myself that this is going to be fast and might even be an appropriate short break.


I take a deep breath and hit the play while noting it is from an unregistered number.


“Hi Lakshmi,” said a female voice, “We urgently need a babysitter. Please let me know if you can help.”


I realised I had forgotten to exhale and doing so replied, “I do not babysit.”


Prompt came the reply, “Oh that’s okay. If you know someone else who can, send me the number.”


I sat up. Unknowingly I had become quiet. I had forgotten the deadlines and the anxiety and gently send back a message with a question, “May I know who is this?”


She returned with her name and urging again to send a babysitter’s number.


Life is tough and I can understand the stress level. But my curiosity in this mistaken identity could not be held back any longer and so sent another question, “How did you get my number?”


Alas no reply.


While that could have been a total case of mistaken identity as ‘Lakshmi’ is a popular name and I frequently get calls for booking air tickets because somewhere out there is a Lakshmi in a travel agency. I am also guilty of this confusion as I keep calling two people when I want to speak to the other. I have attached so many hints and clues to their names, but no matter what when the moment comes invariably I will end up calling the wrong one. They have got so used to it that they ask me what it is about and tell me which Aziz to call.


As for the call seeking a babysitter, I realised that there are always job opportunities and services that are required in the society. The whole incident made me smile in the end.


Now here was another situation, but this was dangerous and definitely not cute.


This was last week when a hacker had stolen an identity of a friend who is prominent in the society. While browsing the Net came a request of the friends and being on auto pilot mode immediately accepted not wondering why this friend was not already an Facebook friend. Within seconds a message appeared on the messenger - “Hi, How are you?”


Of course yours truly gave a genuine reply of how the day has been.


Then came the question, “Do you have Google pay?”


When the answer was negative, the person on the other end texted, “Then can you ask your friends please?”


The ‘please’ and ‘ask’ made me pause to take the phone and call to ask my friend why did he need Google pay?


He had already received many calls and he had been informed that 400 people had already accepted the request from the fake account.


By the time I returned to the messenger, the account had deleted messages from the other end.


It only proved how vulnerable we are online. It just takes seconds to reveal personal information to a stranger through a mistaken identity.


It also reminds us how easy it is for others to access personal pictures while being on social media. It is also a reminder on how vulnerable we are on the social media - what we share and what we post goes through people we know as well as total strangers whose intentions will always remain unknown.


Before the week was over, received a notification from yet another friend, “There has been a fake account created on my name so please do not accept any friendship requests.”


So it goes on part of the reality of online life.


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