Receiving a call from 777888999 won't make your phone explode: Stop buying into stupid hoaxes.

Rumour mills and fake news factories are working overtime thesedays. But just because you work more, does not mean the results look more credible. Case in point, the latest WhatsApp and social media hoax that is circulating all round, making middle-aged uncles nervous about security. 

A message has been circulating warning people that answering a phone call from a specific mobile number may set their handset on fire and render them dead. According to the message, answering a call from the number 777888999 could prove fatal, because answering the call will make your phone explode. 

Facebook pages and family WhatsApp groups have been abuzz with texts like "URGENT ? pl don't attend any Call of mob no ...777888999....if u attend. Call your mobile will blast share to your friends ...," and "Savdhaan ish No.777888999 Se call aya toh utana nhi, nhi toh ye aapke akhri call b hosakta hain". 

The number, according to a Truecaller search, belongs to “Don't Receive Virus”. Pretty ominous, right? Of course it is not a verified number, and it is listed under “tax agency” (haha) and has been reported by 77,573 people. 

First and foremost, nine digit mobile numbers do not exist in India. Of course it can be an international number, but phone numbers can’t make your ordinary phone explode. 

The name “Don't Receive Virus” is clearly one that has been assigned to the number by members of the Truecaller community. Truecaller, if you have noticed, seeks permission from your phone to access your contacts. Once you do authorise that, Truecaller proceeds to upload all of your contacts on their database. In all likeliness, someone had saved this number as “Don't Receive Virus”, and that’s how it got the name. 

And more importantly, unless your phone is Samsung Galaxy Note 7, there is little chance that your phone will randomly catch fire or explode. 

Hoaxes and rumours like these are mostly harmless. The fact is that they do nothing more than spread meaningless paranoia in a group of naive people. There is however no doubt that this is all part of a bigger scheme of hoaxes that can be insidious as well. Very recently after the world was terrorised by a ransomware known as WannaCryptor, Indian WhatsApp groups were filled with rumours about ATMs and Indian computers being compromised. Messages warning people that ATMs will be shut over the next few days and that they should stay away from online shopping sites have been spreading like wildfire. Of course that is not true either. 

But it does make one wonder: why do we not fact-check anything?