Consumer protection from unwanted charges or overcharges
Smartphones have, in many ways, proven to be useful tools as they combine the functionality of a mobile phone, a personal computer linked to the internet, and often a geographical positioning system (GPS). However, when using a smart phone, it is important to know that:
- Smart phones have been designed to provide easy and direct access to the internet. That is the reason why, they usually come with default settings for accessing the internet, while at the same time, internet access is a part of every mobile service program (pre-paid or post-paid). Consequently, as soon as you insert your SIM card in your new smart phone and you turn on the device for the first time, it is most probable that you have an open access to the internet.
- Smart phones include applications that are designed to automatically connect to the internet, exactly like a personal computer with a fixed internet access. Consequently:
- You may browse through webpages, connect to your electronic mail service, communicate through social networking pages, upload photographs, download music, watch videos and use applications, the same way you do with your personal computer.
- Moreover, it is possible that the device is set, so that applications updates are allowed automatically (e.g. weather updates, operating system updates)
- Browsing through the internet with a smartphone, will invoke charges, that are dependant on the mobile service program you have selected.
- The charge is usually calculated according to the volume of data sent or received.
- The data volume depends on parameters like the type of the application, the duration of the connection, the device and the settings of the device.
- Charges for internet usage in mobile service programs that do not include prepaid data volume are usually considerably high. However, nowadays, mobile telephony providers offer different charging programs that include prepaid data volume in more economic prices to the consumer. In some cases however, where the volume of data sent or received is greater than the one set by the selected mobile service program, you may be overcharged.
- Moreover, the devices offer the possibility, through user selection, of accessing the internet using alternative ways (often without charge) like connection to wireless local networks (WiFi hotspots).
- The smartphone user has the capability to adjust the settings of his device in such a way that automatic access to the internet is not allowed, for software updates, as well as for applications requiring internet access in general.
In this context, EETT advices the consumers:
- Be thoroughly informed about the characteristics of your mobile device.
- Read carefully the instructions of use of his smartphone, in order to comprehend the settings, especially those related to internet usage.
- Be informed of the way that you can deter, the automatic connection of your device to the internet - either by contacting your mobile provider, by carefully reading the instructions of use, or by contacting the local representative of the smartphone vendor.
- Request information from your mobile provider about all the information mechanisms available, concerning the internet usage, in order to avoid overcharges.
- Before using an application, confirm , if and how this application accesses the internet.
- Be thoroughly informed about mobile service programs that include internet access, its characteristics and tariffs, so that you can select the most suitable program that fits your needs.
User and device protection from malware
Smartphones may be “infected” by malware, exactly like personal computers. As the number of smartphone users increases, these incidents are multiplying, mainly due to:
- Downloading of “infected” applications by illegal or unreliable sources.
- Selection of links transmitted via sms or encountered during web browsing.
EETT indicates that the existence and the activation of malware in smartphones, may involve threats, indicatively:
- Continuous emission of sms and consequently high charges in the consumer bill
- Interception of personal data
- Monitoring of mobile phone usage
- Recording of calls and sms
As the benefits from using a smartphone are significant, by no means should you hesitate or be discouraged from getting one. However, for your own protection and security, EETT advises:
- Do not neglect to update the operating system of your mobile device, in order to shield your phone against malware, as updates often include important security additions.
- Download applications only from reliable and legal sources and avoid to select links, with unidentified origin
- Pay extra attention, while connecting to the internet through free, public WiFi hotspots.