Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Filelodge: why SMS or text verification?

If anyone else has got an account with the free file hosting provider Filelodge, I expect you've received an email from admin@filelodge.com saying:
We are requesting that File Lodge members verify their accounts by sending us an SMS / Text message from their mobile (cell) phones.

Lately there has been a lot of abuse on the system, and we have had to introduce this extra verification measure to ensure that accounts belong to genuine users. By phone verifying users we hope to be able to remove non-legitimate users who make the performance of the service suffer.

For instructions on how to verify your account, please visit http://www.filelodge.com/phoneactivate.php

We would appreciate it if you can verify your account straight away, as in the future non-verified accounts may be removed from the system.

Best regards,
The File Lodge team

Now so far FileLodge has proved very popular because they give you bags of space (500 MB), let you upload virtually any file type (even image files and audio files like MP3s), allow hotlinking, and provide unlimited bandwidth for downloads, (they're ad-supported). This email seems legit in that the http://www.filelodge.com/phoneactivate.php link does lead to a page on the FileLodge site as far as I can see, and so does the http://www.filelodge.com/activate.php link listed on that page.

However, nasty suspicious cynical me has to ask:
  • What is this 60999 number? People have signed up for File Lodge from all over the world. How much exactly do you get charged for sending a text to that number? Premium rate? A lot more?
  • Is this a ploy to collect lots of mobile phone numbers for marketing purposes? I've always resisted texting for any promotions and the like, despite the tempting prizes etc often on offer. I don't want to lay myself open to spam texts or SMS messages. Plus, they'll be able to associate your phone number with your username and email address, how useful is that for marketers? And will they be selling your details to third parties?
  • Or do they plan to shop to the record companies and the like any people who have been using File Lodge for hosting illegal MP3 files? I sympathise if there's been abuse on that score, and getting hold of mobile numbers is a very nice and easy way for them to track down exactly who's who, though there are surely other ways to track down illegal file sharers and it's been done before through ISPs and the like. But for those of us who use FileLodge for legal purposes, and want privacy and no possibility of spam texts, looks like it's tough luck.
Their privacy policy page focuses very much on Web visits, it says not a thing about mobile phone number information. They do say (paragraph 2) that they use our info for demographics and providing info to potential advertisers and they claim they won't disclose users' personal information to third parties "unless any kind of illegal activity has taken place on your account".

But without a clear statement as to what they're going to do with our numbers, how secure they keep them, and how much that text message will cost, I'm not going to do it, and if I have to lose that hosting, well that's the way it goes.

I'm also wondering why they require a text message for verification. For the vast majority of websites, email verification is sufficient. And what about people who don't have cellphones, few though they may be these days - how on earth can they verify? How does giving them your cellphone number to associate with your username and email address "prove" that you're "legitimate"?

It's such a pity, because FileLodge was the best hosting provider for files around. Operative word, was.

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rickdog said...

What makes it even more suspicious is that it doesn't work.
First, they ask you so send four words to them, which they display lower case.
They then reject your textmessage saying "The request code you entered is invalid, please try again. Example: SUBMIT FILELODGE CAMPAIGN". So now I send it upper case and they reply with a 6 digit verification code, which doesn't work. The verification page says that you should recieve a 5 digit code. Very suspicious.

Improbulus said...

Thanks for the info rickdog - very interesting, and very suspicious indeed. I sure hope those text messages didn't cost you too much!

Anonymous said...

I foolishly sent it and it took about £6 off my phone, however it did work and said everything was fine. However, filelodge does seem to be going downhill recently, "trouble with the servers" or something... I can't access my files at the moment.

Improbulus said...

Hi anon. I didn't send it and Filelodge is still (kinda) working for me, they've in fact since clarified that you don't need to do the SMS verification thing in order to keep your account. They'll check that it's legit in some other way.

However, Filelodge really is going up the spout, e.g. my favicon hosted there no longer works (or not via hotlinking anyway), and a Javascript file uploaded to Filelodge is really erratic in terms of accessibility too.

What a shame - it used to be good, but maybe it's a victim of its own success. Except for certain file types where it all goes wrong, I'd use Google Pages now to host my files.

Anonymous said...

Filelodge is crap anyway. The new generation of websites are more like mytuneslive.com

Just upload your mp3 files, listen to them from any wired computer. delete them, edit the tags. You can even put a custom backgreound pic on your flash palyer and tghenk click on myspace code, and put it in your myspace profile!

Improbulus said...

Anon, I agree sites like mytuneslive.com are great in concept. However, I wonder how long it will be before the record companies go after them and take them down, too...

Anonymous said...

I too replied to filelodge regarding thier request for verification of my account,, I have since recieved a verification code to enter,,( where, I do not know) as i cannot seem to find where to enter it anyway I seemed to have been charged £5 for this service, as i could not find out where to enter it I didn't bother,, I have now recieved again the same verification number and again my cellnet phone has been deducted £5 making a total so far of £10. I have e-mailed filelodge over this and am as yet still awaiting a reply, I do believe I have been conned but I will post on here any comment that I might recieve from them.. filelodge users BEWARE!!!

kingtroy said...

well here i am again 7 days later and still no reply from Filelodge, no more text's yet either but i am taking no chances, as soon as my credit has been used i will obtain a new Sim card, i have learnt my lesson, anyone who does know what went on please let me know on my space (kingtroy7), kingtroys box. thanks

Improbulus said...

Anon and Kingtroy, see the link I mentioned in my comment above - you don't have to text them after all in order to verify your account, and as I feared all texting them does is to get you charged with an unknown amount - well thanks to you we know how much, it's £5 per text! You should try to contact Filelodge again for a refund of the "extra" text. Good luck.

kingtroy said...

Thanks for getting back to me,, I have giving up all hope of a renumeration on this one, think any e-mails go straight into their junkbox if they are regarding money ..lol..but as i said earlier I will be getting myself a new mobile sim card as soon as my credit has run out and i will treat this as a valuable lesson learned, once again thanks,

Improbulus said...

No probs kingtroy. I'm sorry you didn't get your money back. I no longer use Filelodge and won't be using them again in future.

Caroline said...

I give up in good faith! I'm moving on and I thing mp3.com looks good and I might give them a try.

Improbulus said...

Caroline, I got to say that after that I lost trust in them and haven't used them since! Sorry it didn't work out for you, good luck with MP3.com. The guy who started and sold Filelodge has now got Fileden and that seems to be OK at the moment, I host my favico there.