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Consumer Alert: A text message that compliments you

The "compliment" text message

We have a consumer alert for you over a strange text message. A lot of people are talking about it on social media. It comes with a compliment.

The text message says, “Someone complimented you. See more on IRL.”

It includes a link that takes you to the IRL app.

IRL stands for “In Real Life." It's a real app. The compliment is supposed to come from a friend. But, some consumer advocates aren’t exactly complimentary.

According to the IRL privacy policy, if you sign up for an account, the app will collect your name, e-mail address, phone number and your contacts. The app can also collect your gender, location, advertising identifiers and IP address.

Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a public interest research group, calls the app “somewhat predatory.” She says the privacy policy is “really poor.”

“Never click on a link from a phone number or an email address you don't recognize,” said Better Business Bureau Communications Manager Ande Kral.

That's because clicking on strange links could possibly download malware, she warns.

The IRL app was actually started by two tech veterans: PayPal's first board member, Scott Banister and Abe Shafi, who was a vice president at the career website, Dice.com.

Given the complaints I've seen, the IRL app is probably not their best work.

The IRL privacy policy says you can opt out of text messages by replying, “STOP.”

Another option: Just hit delete.

Or, you can just compliment someone in person

IRL responded to us several days after our broadcast and the publication of this story on our website. They don't publish a phone number for media to call. They just have an email address for media questions, and they say my email ended up in their spam folder.

An IRL media person, who didn't identify themselves by name and who turned down our request to have a conversation by phone, issued a promotional statement to us.

Here's the most important part:

"IRL aims to solve technology addiction by bringing people together in real life," said someone using the the email address, press@irl.co. "The only way to receive an sms is if a friend with your contact info sent you a compliment, added you as a friend or sent you an invite to a plan."

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