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Mobile Bill Shock Prevention - Real Time Alerts

 No shock over ‘bill-shock’

The FCC has announced that wireless-phone customers will begin receiving real-time alerts next year if they are about to go over their monthly voice, data or text-message limits. While this is a typical practice for some operators, encouraging all carriers to adopt this practice is a favorable development for both US carriers and their consumers – and, based on carriers’ widespread acceptance of the new standards, they are well aware of this fact. 

Carriers will not benefit in the long run by allowing customers to unassumingly run up large bills.  Such behavior renders consumers prime targets for mobile exploitation, and puts carriers in the hot-seat when it comes time to assign blame. 

I, for one, recently experienced an ‘incident’ whereby I was notified – just two weeks into my monthly billing cycle - that I was at 90% of my monthly data quota. I inspected my data usage online and was surprised to see that at various times over the previous few days, I had been transferring vast amounts of data at 4am in the morning. I called my carrier’s customer care department who suggested (naïvely in my opinion) that data transfer was ‘normal’ and that ‘Android applications are often updated automatically’.

As an informed subscriber I understand that, but over 50Mb of transfers night after night without my knowledge/approval??? Was I a spambot?

And before you ask: yes, I had a client security app installed – and no, it knew nothing of this behavior (a reason to favor network-centric security solutions if I ever heard one).

But bottom-line, I would have known nothing of this had my provider not indicated I was nearing my quota. Therefore, It is essential that as consumers we maintain an awareness of the charges on our bills.

We at AdaptiveMobile have seen cybercriminals exploit the fact that small charges (or data transfers) are most often overlooked.  These charges can be the result of malware, premium SMS usage, or visiting fraudulent websites, and the criminal is counting on the fact that the consumer will not notice the amount.  In one case, we saw an SMS scam net $2 million within a mere period of days, illustrating the unfortunate validity of this threat.

As a result, the introduction of real-time alerts can only be a good thing for mobile users and carriers alike.