Better Business Bureau: Cell phone charges
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Last year, Better Business Bureau received more than 38,000 complaints against cellular telephone services and equipment, making it the No. 1 complaint category in the BBB system.
Many complaints filed alleged data billing issues, even though customers have numerous ways to control their data costs. One cause of high data use is children unknowingly playing games, surfing the Internet or downloading music without realizing the cost associated with their activities. Our advice to parents is to pay attention to the data activities that your children use.
Look at the different data plans and restrictions that your cellular carrier offers and consider whether or not a different data plan - or parental controls - might be the way to go.
Fake account cancellation
Facebook users, watch out. A scam in the form of a fake account cancellation email is making the rounds, and it's easy to get fooled. Don't let the threat of losing your account trick you into installing malware on your computer. The scam starts with an email informing Facebook users that they have a received an account cancellation request.
Recipients are urged to follow a link to cancel the request. If you do click on the link, a message asks you to allow an unknown application to run on your computer. Click the "run" button, and you will see a message telling you to download a new version of Adobe Flash. The file that downloads is not the latest version of Flash, but code allowing hackers to spy on your activities and take control of your computer.
Just say 'no'
Want to know how not to become a victim of a scam? Just say "no." But every day, thousands of consumers do just the opposite. A few examples: a supposed telemarketing or survey call begins with the question: "Are you over age 18?" "Yes, of course." You say. You've just given the caller permission to take advantage of you.
A rich widow in an African country wants to share her inherited wealth with you. "Yes," you respond, not hesitating a second in providing your bank account number so she can deposit the funds.
You spot the car of your dreams online for a fraction of the cost you've seen it elsewhere. The out-of-state seller instructs you to wire the funds and the car will be shipped. "Yes," you respond, counting the days until the convertible arrives.
The Better Business Bureau advises students and their parents to be wary of websites, seminars or other schemes that promise to find scholarships, grants or financial aid packages for a fee. The companies may promise a money-back guarantee, but they set so many conditions that it's almost impossible to get a refund.
The BBB advises, don't be rushed into paying for help at a seminar. Be cautious if a representative urges you to buy now to avoid losing an opportunity. Be cautious if a company is reluctant to answer any questions you have about the service or the process. Beware of letters or emails saying you've been selected to receive a scholarship for a contest you never entered. Check the company's BBB Business Review at bbb.org.
In closing, do you have a topic you would like me to address? Please let me know by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, let me hear from you concerning problems and scams that are occurring in the Victoria area.
Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at email@example.com.