Teens Can Run Up HUGE Bills On Cell Phones

Teens Can Run Up HUGE Bills On Cell Phones

We live in a changing world. Our phones are no longer relegated to being merely a voice and text communication tool, but are now a full fledged commerce tool allowing individuals to purchase content for their phones or pay for items through their cell phone. With something called "mobile commerce" your phone is a gateway to purchase ring tones, download music, get stock quotes, movie tickets and driving directions. Companies advertise that through the purchase of their products and a monthly service you can turn your stove on or house lights off all from the convenience of your phone. PayPal recently announced "Wherever you are - on a sidewalk, in the bleachers, on a couch - you can make PayPal purchases" all through your cell phone.

There are basically two types of commerce. First, products or services that typically appear on your phone (but not always) and are automatically billed to your phone account. This works in a similar manner to its predecessor, the 900 phone numbers. Second, through a separate account typically set up via the internet through a financial vendor such as PayPal, a phone text message is sent, or a special 800 number is called and with an accompanying password a payment is sent to anyone with an account from the same financial vendor.

With phones appearing in the hands of so many teenagers some vendors may perceive these teens as ill prepared to make wise financial decisions and therefore easy prey. The same parent who does not trust their child with a credit card may unwittingly give them a tool with equal buying power. Are you instructing your children in how to avoid poor financial decisions or even internet scams when you place a phone in their hands? Like the 900 number fiasco from a few decades ago the new cell phone based mobile commerce has the potential to cost ill prepared consumers plenty.

Here are some simple rules to teach your teen before handing them a cell phone:

  • Do not allow mobile commerce or purchases without prior permission. When my children learned to drive I gave them a gas credit card. We also gave them a strict list of what could and could not be purchased on the card. Similarly, make it clear exactly what is and is not acceptable with phone commerce. A routine review of the cell phone bill should reveal any non-compliance to this request. Unless you would trust your child with a credit card, don’t allow them to set up a PayPal or other similar account on their phone.
  • No "Votes" or "Contests". Your child should not participate in advertisements using text messaging until it is determined there is no fee associated with the text. Several "contests" charge the phone a fee to enter in the same way a local charity charges for a raffle ticket.
  • Check each offer carefully. Clearly understand if you are making a one time purchase or are buying a subscription service. Know your rights and how to cancel any subscription services. Services such as ring tone download or driving directions vary depending on the vendor you choose.​
  • Only purchase from reputable companies. If the deal seems too good to be true – IT IS!​
  • Never disclose personal information. Hopefully you have already taught your children this practice, however, make sure they understand text messaging and internet from their cell phone are included in the personal information ban.​
  • Never allow “private†conversations while lending his or her phone. If your child lends their phone to a friend, instruct him or her to keep the friend in sight and return it immediately. This will prevent all kinds of abuse including mobile commerce and inappropriate text messaging, etc.​
Cell phones are a great comfort to parents and extremely useful to our independent teens. However, as technology expands and brings more and more functionality and options to the cellular phone, parents should keep abreast of changes and prepare their child for these changes. Mobile commerce is no exception. If you find your child has not made wise choices check with your wireless provider, some companies provide an option to prohibit certain mobile commerce transactions.

Have you had any experiences? Share them with us!

(reprinted from thriftytimes.com, used by permission)
Have you had any experiences? Share them with us!
Yes. I have...

One of these clay throwers will launch a cell phone around 300 feet when launched at a forty-five degree angle by your teen.


From my experiences, I recommend using a 12 gauge with full choke, number 7 shot, and lead the cellular phone approximately the same distance as you would lead a quail.

Happy Hunting! :)

You can insert the £ the same way we insert the ¢. Through a symbol insert.
Oh I see. Thank you.
I was just wondering if keyboards were the same in the UK and such as they are here.

I thought it might be above the number 4 or something like that.

By the way, here is a link to another article that may be of interest to others reading these posts.

In addition, I personally pay a little more each month for our phones, but I have an unlimited long distance account. It's nice not to worry about long distance or roaming. I can call all I want, anywhere, and the bill stays the same. (Around $65.00 per month for two phones and two numbers.)
It was much less expensive to have two cell phones and two numbers, with unlimited long distance than we were paying for a land line.

We ditched the land line years ago. No regrets.
I never liked cell phones- they cause brain cancer:(
I never liked cell phones- they cause brain cancer:(
Respectfully, I never had good reason to worry about cell phones from a physical safety perspective.

I was a network administrator for nearly a decade and frankly, I don't believe that a cell phone is any more "dangerous" than having a microwave or a television set in ones house.

They operate on microwaves and I figure as long as my ear doesn't get warm,....I'm probably okay. :D

I did just ask my wife, and I was incorrect. We pay $82.00 per month for our two phones. We have call waiting, voice mail, and caller ID. There is no roam anywhere in the US, and we each have 300 hours per month.

We use less than a hundred hours per month between both of us, but she said that was the lowest hourly rate available.

When we had a land line, we paid about $60.00 per month, and that came with unlimited long distance, but what good is a land phone if you are outside of the house?

Our kids can't drive yet, so they dont use cell phones for anything. My oldest is twelve and will be able to drive on public roads in two years. I guess at that time I will give her one of our phones, and keep the other one with us.

I grew up without cell phones, so I don't really view them as a necessity, but if you have one, I must admit, that I would feel safer knowing that my child had one of them with her for an emergency.
I don't see why everyone has a cell phone... I've seen a 8 year-old kid with a cell phone o_O It's complete nonsense.

Reasons not to have one:
#1. Cost:eek:
#2. Stupid conversations with little value:(
#3. Waste of time :rolleyes:
#4. Bad games, get a computer if you want good games:mad:
#5. Text-talk makes you lose IQ and spelling knowlede :p

I'm pretty sure there are cell phones you can buy that only call home and 911... And they are cheaper...
CSchultz, the article you posted was excellent!

Padelford you can get 911 only phones. They typcially come with a small monthly or yearly charge. However, here in the US phone companies cannot refuse any 911 call, even from an unregistered phone. So all you need is anyone's old phone. Keep it charged in your car and in an emergency you can call 911 and it will go through! No plan required.
I listen to a physician just the other day and he certainly did not think they are safe but I guess we all can make our own decisions on that:D- as far as my kids they don't need a phone in their pockets or glued to their ears all the time- again my personal choice.
My sister is on probation stemming from harrassment charges from calls a friend made from my sister's phone. The really lousy part was that the 'friend' wouldn't come forward and say she was the one that made the calls.

If/when our kids have cellphones, they will be the kind that we program numbers onto and they are restricted to send or receive calls from that list. They're welcome to have whatever kind of service they wish once they are 18 and it is in their own name.
We do not have cell phones in my family (although I did have one at one point several years back for a period of two years). My youngest is a little over a year and a half old, and he notices cell phone everywhere. He began to notice people walking around with these things glued to their ear and talking into them. He would come home and grab the remote controls and hold them to his ear, talking into them like a cell phone. Finally, we pulled out the old cell phone (with no battery) and gave it to him to play with. One day we went to wal-mart and immediately he began to frantically look around at everyone with their phone glued to their ears. His hands shot up to his ears. Then he dropped one hand down and began to talk into the hand remaining at his ear. It was so funny, but it also made me realize what times we live in. Gone are the days of babies talking on fisher price phones that wobble around with the googly eyes. Now even our babies know what a cell phone is.