Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Icy Hoaxes

You may have heard about the “ICE” – In Case of Emergency – email that’s been going around and has been posted on a few blogs (Webdiva and Ministry of Information being two of those on my blogroll). The basic idea is that you create a contact in your phone book with the name ‘ICE’ and the number of an emergency contact, so that if you are found in an unconcious state after an accident by a member of the emergency services then a close friend or relative can be contacted more easily.
The idea does have a couple of flaws – you may have used a PIN to lock your phone or address book, and some phones get confused when two contacts have the same number; my Nokia 7250i suffers from this. But on the whole it’s a good idea and one you should consider taking up.
Today, however, hoax emails have been appearing about the idea. The premise is that a mobile phone virus may use these enties to spread, costing you money.
This virus does not exist. By adding an ICE contact to your phone book you are not likely to make that contact recieve a virus. (And in any case, my ICE contact is a landline)


  1. Yes, I have heard of this but the virus thing seems a very strange hoax!

  2. Yes, I mentioned the PIN-protection issue in my blog entry, but if the idea catches on, perhaps the phone/SIMM card manufacturers will incorporate a feature whereby the ICE number can be stored separately from the main phone/address book, and can be accessed without a PIN.

  3. The idea as I heard it was to add ICE to the end of a particular contact’s name. That way there will be no duplication, the nurse would know the name of the person they were phoning, and even if the virus did exist and worked the way the hoax says then it wouldn’t work. Sure it means the nurse has to go all the way through your phone book looking for the name with ICE next to it, but that’s a small price to pay.
    And thanks for reminding me again – I really am going to go and do it this time.

  4. Oh, and even if they did decide to go through my phone book phoning people from A-Z – they’d call my ICE contact second anyway.

  5. Personally, I think it’ll be a better idea of the networks could store an emergency contact number and name for you. That way, if there is a disaster, the police (via the networks) can found out which phones “disappeared” off the network in that vicinity and what the emergency contact is.

  6. Richy C – no way, it’d be harder to change/add the number and it’d mean giving the police easier access to at least one number in our phonebook. In theory though it’s not a bad idea.

  7. This is a great idea, but I’m just cheeky enough to enter 999 as the ICE number. 🙂
    Anyway, ideally only one number would be available to any outside person who obtained your phone or SIM card. Typical mobile phones I see today permit dialling 999 or 112 even when the phone is locked; this could easily be extended to permit dialling the ICE number – or any of several numbers tagged ICE in the phonebook.
    The choice is yours as to what numbers, if any, to use.