Four dodgy mobile tricks to watch out for

mobile phone and notesYesterday, mobile giant Vodafone accused the Egyptian regime of co-opting its network. According to the provider, it was being forced to send pro-government text messages to its Egyptian customers, without being able to make clear where they were coming from.

When David Cameron starts sending me unsolicited texts, I'm definitely leaving the country. But there are already a host of mobile scams, rip-offs and dodgy practices British consumers need to watch out for...

Misleading marketing calls
Every now and then, I get a call from someone trying to convince me to take out a new mobile contract. Nine times out of ten, these people strongly imply they are employed by my current provider.

They say things like 'we see that your contract is coming to an end' - indicating that they're part of your existing arrangement. They're not! In fact, these are usually people working on behalf of rival networks, trying to steal you as a customer.

So of course, if you do sign up for a contract with them, you're likely to end up paying double, for two service plans with two completely different operators. Don't fall for it!

Fake banking scams
Every second day, there seems to be a new scam designed to get hold of your bank details. Here's one of the cleverer ones: You receive a text, asking you to call your bank. It will mention your bank by name, and imply there is a problem that needs to be dealt with urgently.

When you do call, you'll be put through to an automated service that asks for your security and banking details.

But - you've guessed it - your bank isn't involved at all. This is a scam designed to grab your personal information and make off with your cash.

If you organise your finances by phone, only ever use the official telephone number provided by your bank. And if there's any doubt in your mind about who you're talking to, clam up and put the phone down immediately.

Overpriced insurance deals
This rip-off isn't illegal, but it's certainly one to avoid. In a nutshell, avoid buying the mobile insurance that is offered with your handset. These packages are usually massively overpriced and poor value for money.

They also contain so many exclusions that the chances of you actually making a successful claim are small. For example, some policies don't cover accidental damage (for example - you dropping your phone) and others won't pay out if you put it down somewhere and lose it. What's the point of that?

The 'personal possessions' element of home insurance covers your possessions - including your phone - when they're outside your property. Take this out instead: It's usually more comprehensive and far less expensive.

Overseas disasters
Some of the fees charged to use your mobile abroad are the stuff of nightmares. Sending texts or making short phone calls can leave both the 'caller' and the 'called' seriously out of pocket.

And using mobile internet whilst overseas could set you back - literally - thousands of pounds. This is particularly true if you watch movies or live-streamed footage on your phone.

So - try to keep internet use to a minimum on holiday. And well before you leave, make absolutely sure you understand how much you're going to be charged, and for what.

The explanation may be complicated and difficult to understand, but don't let that put you off. The alternative might be a big hole in your bank account!
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