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Optus giving away 20,000 free phones to vulnerable customers

<p>Optus will be giving away 20,000 mobile phones to vulnerable customers ahead of the 3G network shut down. </p> <p>Following the footsteps of Telstra, who gave out <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/telstra-giving-free-phones-to-elderly-and-remote" target="_blank" rel="noopener">12,000 mobile phones</a> to their most vulnerable remote and elderly customers last month, Optus will offer thousands of free mobile phones to customers enduring financial hardship and vulnerable customers finding it difficult to replace their current phones. </p> <p>“We know that many impacted customers are actually using a 4G handset that reverts to 3G for calls, so it’s vital these customers understand the importance of upgrading their handsets when notified,” Optus’ head of new products Harvey Wright said.</p> <p>Messages have been sent to eligible customers, and the telco giant has also rolled out special deals encouraging Australian's to upgrade. </p> <p>The move to switch off 3G means that soon certain mobile devices will no longer be able to send texts, make calls, or contact triple-0 in an emergency. A few older 4G handsets will also be affected. </p> <p>Telstra will turn off their 3G network on August 31, while Optus will turn it off on September 1. </p> <p>TPG Telecom and Vodafone have already turned it off. </p> <p>Australia's mobile network operators say that the move will help boost the capacity, speed and reliability of the newer 4G and 5G networks. </p> <p>The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) have also urged customers to take action to ensure that they stay connected. </p> <p>“Whether it’s your day-to-day mobile or one you keep in the drawer for an emergency, we encourage you to check all of your devices to ensure they will be supported once Australia’s 3G networks are switched off,” AMTA chief executive Louise Hyland said. </p> <p>The AMTA suggests that concerned customers should visit their <a href="https://amta.org.au/3g-closure/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a> to find out if their devices will be supported. </p> <p>“It is important to note that while 3G networks are still in operation, those affected mobile devices will continue to connect to any available 3G network while in coverage, to make emergency calls to triple-0,” Hyland said.</p> <p>“However, once the 3G networks are fully closed, these phones will not be able to make emergency calls.</p> <p>“It is crucial to act now if you know you have an older mobile device and you haven’t already upgraded.”</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Been scammed? Here's how to financially recover

<p>Many people feel shame and embarrassment after realising they have been scammed. But you shouldn’t. You did nothing wrong; you are the victim of a crime. </p> <p>Not only are such feelings bad for your mental wellbeing, but they also often stop people reporting the scam or taking action to avoid further losses. </p> <p>Remember too that you’re not alone: victims reported more than 601,000 scams to the ACCC in 2023, together losing a staggering $2.74 billion. People of all ages, professions, and backgrounds have been affected. </p> <p>As hard as it may be, try to leave emotion aside and approach this like any other money matter – logically and methodically. Doing so will help you act faster and more decisively, which is crucial to your financial recovery. </p> <p>The following checklist will help you through this process:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 1 – Try to recoup your stolen money</strong></li> </ul> <p>Report the scam immediately. Contact your bank or card provider to stop the transaction being processed. Notify the company or marketplace where it occurred – they may have options to reverse the payment or for you to claim compensation for fraud. </p> <p>Also inform the ACCC’s Scamwatch and police if relevant, which may aid in tracking down the scammer and will help them alert the wider public on what to look out for. </p> <p>Unfortunately, the money is likely gone for good, but prompt action may just help you get some or all of it back. </p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 2 – Secure your accounts from further thefts</strong></li> </ul> <p>Once scammers have found a way to steal money, they often go back to try for more. Don’t let them! </p> <p>Freeze or cancel affected debit and credit cards, accounts etc. Change and strengthen all your passwords. Set up two-factor authentication if you haven’t already. Remove any suspicious applications on electronic devices. </p> <p>Double check the registrations of any business, adviser or tradesperson before engaging their services. Regularly check your superannuation, investments etc. to monitor for any inconsistencies.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 3 – Safeguard your cash flow</strong></li> </ul> <p>Don’t multiplying your losses by racking up new debts to cover the stolen money. That means limiting the use of credit cards, payday lenders and Buy Now, Pay Later schemes. Consider paying with cash instead to help you stick to a budget.</p> <p>If you have lost everything, register with Centrelink for income support. You may also be able to apply for hardship provisions with your bank, phone and energy providers and other essential services.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 4 – Get reputable advice</strong></li> </ul> <p>Legal advice may be able to get you out of bogus contracts, like loans or phone plans, and help you in the event your personal information has been stolen (which can be used in various ways to steal money). If you can’t afford a lawyer, there are free alternatives such as Legal Aid or Community Legal Centres. Specialist services such as the Women’s Legal Service may offer support where partner coercion or domestic abuse is involved.</p> <p>Accounting and financial advice may also help you navigate assistance options and longer term recovery efforts.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Step 5 – Rebuild your finances</strong></li> </ul> <p>Your ability to rebuild your finances after a scam will depend on a range of factors, including how much was lost plus your age and circumstances.</p> <p>You could seek to increase your earnings and/or cut your spending by tweaking your household budget, delaying retirement, or temporarily taking a second job to boost your income. </p> <p>Another option is to make your remaining finances work harder than before, such as adjusting your investment strategies (e.g. changing your risk weightings or selling assets) including within your superannuation or accessing equity in your home.</p> <p>If you’re a self-funded retiree, you may now qualify for a part or full pension if your scam losses push your total assets below the means test threshold.</p> <p>Ultimately, the most important things when dealing with the fallout from a scam is to look after yourself and protect what you have left.</p> <p>Scammers have already taken off with your dollars. Don’t let them steal your sense too!</p> <p><em><strong>Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of On Your Own Two Feet: The Essential Guide to Financial Independence for all Women. Helen is among the 1% of financial planners who hold a master’s degree in the field. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charities supporting disadvantaged women and children. Find out more at <a href="http://www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au/">www.onyourowntwofeet.com.au</a></strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal financial or product advice. Any opinions or views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations the owner may be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Helen Baker is an authorised representative of BPW Partners Pty Ltd AFSL 548754.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Aussies warned over new nbn scam

<p>Aussies have been warned against a new nbn scam targeting businesses and residents. </p> <p>Last year,  about 1,800 Australians lost more than $1.2 million to scammers pretending to be nbn employees in a remote access scam. </p> <p>Now, they have found a new way to scam unsuspecting businesses and residents by pretending to be employees and getting people to hand over their personal details and money in areas where <em>actual</em> nbn employees are working. </p> <p>The opportunistic scammers have been randomly knocking on doors or cold calling homes in areas where nbn technicians are installing new fibre. </p> <p>A few people have already been duped, with nbn impersonators calling customers claiming they need money to pay for new internet hardware or postage costs. </p> <p>Scammers have also offered to inspect people's homes for a nbn fibre upgrade and took their bank account details in the process. </p> <p>Other impersonators have called customers saying they would show up a few days later, despite having no prior appointment booked. </p> <p>Scammers have also impersonated staff, and used the presence of actual nbn vehicles on the street as proof of their authenticity. </p> <p>“These impersonators are also asking residents for payment to test their services or secure upgrades and repair works in the future,” nbn Local head Chris Cusack said. </p> <p>“In taking the payment these people are then skimming banking and card details to extract more money afterwards.</p> <p>“We are asking residents to be extra-vigilant against scams, especially while legitimate nbn work is underway.”</p> <p>Nbn has advised that their technicians would always contact people to ensure they were aware of visits before their appointments, and inform them of where they will be doing fibre upgrades. </p> <p>They also send their customers texts to confirm or cancel the appointment, and let them know when they are on their way. </p> <p>Nbn technicians never ask for payment for an appointment, postage costs, hardware costs, or access to any devices. </p> <p>Approved technicians and workers all carry identification cards, and the nbn Local head suggested that customers should always request to see the card before providing access to their residence. </p> <p>“Do not share your bank or personal details with an unsolicited caller or with people who door knock claiming to be from nbn trying to sell you an nbn service or seeking payment for related services,” Cusack said.</p> <p>“If you get contacted like this, please close your door, or hang up the phone and report it to the ACCC’s Scam watch.”</p> <p><em>Images: news.com.au</em></p>

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Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest's major win over scam ads

<p>Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has had a major win against Facebook owner Meta, with a US court allowing him to continue to sue the platform over fake advertisements using his name. </p> <p>The scam Facebook ads show him promoting fake cryptocurrency and other fraudulent investments.</p> <p>The ruling means that the court will consider whether Meta breached its duty by publishing the advertisements, and whether they operated in a way that facilitated scam ads by using defective screening and review procedures.</p> <p>US District Judge Casey Pitts in San Jose, California, made the decision on Monday, and said that Forrest can try to prove Meta's negligence and whether his name and likeness was misappropriated by Meta, and not just by fraudsters behind the bogus ads.</p> <p>"Dr Forrest claims that Meta profited more from ads that included his likeness than it would have if the ads had not," Pitts wrote.</p> <p>"This is enough to adequately plead that the alleged misappropriation was to Meta's advantage."</p> <p>Forrest said that there were over 1000 ads scam ads using his name that appeared on Facebook in Australia between April and November 2023, leading to millions of dollars in losses for victims.</p> <p>The billionaire reportedly first raised the fraudulent advertisements with Meta back in 2014, but nothing happened, according to the <em>Herald Sun. </em></p> <p>This is the first time a social media company was unable to invoke Section 230 immunity in a US civil case over its advertising business. </p> <p>It's a significant move, as social media companies in the US are usually immune from liability in the US for content posted by third parties. </p> <p>"This is a crucial strategic victory in the battle to hold Facebook accountable," Forrest said.</p> <p>The billionaire is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. </p> <p><em>Image: Dinendra Haria/LNP/ Shutterstock Editorial</em></p>

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Why you should be wary of charging your phone in an airport

<p dir="ltr">While charging stations at airports can often be life-savings before boarding a flight, it turns out these handy outlets can be leaving you vulnerable. </p> <p dir="ltr">Many people have fought over a spot to charge up your devices at the last minute before embarking on a holiday, but next time you leave home with your phone or laptop needing some more juice, think again. </p> <p dir="ltr">Emily Stallings, co-founder of tech retailer <em><a href="https://www.getcasely.com/">Casely</a></em>, says that by plugging your phone into a power outlet at a public USB charging station, you're at risk of data breaches and malware infection.</p> <p dir="ltr">"If a device gets infected, it could end up leaking sensitive information or even stop working properly," she told <em><a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/latest/charging-phone-at-the-airport-danger-expert/57d141df-33ba-4a50-89e5-26f6f2a0c18d">9Travel</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">These public USB ports have often been compromised by cybercriminals, who then use these unsecured ports to steal sensitive information transmitted between devices.</p> <p dir="ltr">"From personal emails to financial data, the information intercepted through these compromised ports could lead to identity theft, financial loss, and other serious consequences," explains Stallings.</p> <p dir="ltr">The best way to get around this threat, without letting your phone run out of battery, is to pack a portable charging device in your carry-on bag every time you travel.</p> <p dir="ltr">With your own cord and power bank, it's far less likely that any sneaky hackers will be able to access your device's data.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stallings says you can also enable security features such as USB Restricted Mode on your device, for those moments when you're desperate for a charger and have to rely on public ports. </p> <p dir="ltr">"This adds an extra layer of protection against potential data breaches and malware infections when charging from public USB ports."</p> <p dir="ltr">"By activating USB Restricted Mode or similar security features, you restrict data transfer over USB connections, effectively preventing unauthorised access to your device's data while charging in public spaces."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p> </p>

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Telstra giving free phones to elderly and remote

<p>With the 3G network set to shut down completely on August 31, Telstra announced that it will be giving 12,000 mobile phones away for free in a bid to help the most vulnerable customers switch to 4G. </p> <p>Starting from Tuesday, the telecommunications company will be issuing complimentary phones to customers who are elderly, live rurally or are facing difficult situations. </p> <p>These include those facing financial issues, recovering from natural disasters, or those who have a life-threatening medical condition and therefore rely on a working phone. </p> <p>Telstra have also identified those who live regionally or are over 80 years old and may require extra transition support, as they may have difficulty accessing a physical store to make the switch. </p> <p>Those who are flagged as eligible will be contacted by the telco company, and they are encouraging customers who receive the message to follow the instructions given to make the switch. </p> <p>Major Brendan Nottle from The Salvation Army has praised this initiative for helping the "most vulnerable members of our community."</p> <p>“Connection is one of the most important things to maintain in our society, whether it is with friends and family or with housing and support services,” he said.</p> <p>“Ensuring that every Australian, from any background or level of income, can take part in our modern digital society is crucial.</p> <p>“A phone can be a gateway to social inclusion, community connection and support, and with the upcoming closure of 3G networks in Australia it is important for us to reach out and ensure that this can continue for everyone.”</p> <p>Customers who are yet to upgrade are also told to make the switch sooner than later. </p> <p>Other devices that will be affected by the shutdown include certain smart watches, tablets, medical alarms, EFTPOS terminals and security monitors.</p> <p><em>Images: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Worried your address, birth date or health data is being sold? You should be – and the law isn’t protecting you

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australians don’t know and can’t control how data brokers are spreading their personal information. This is the core finding of a newly <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Digital-platform-services-inquiry-March-2024-interim-report.pdf">released report</a> from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).</p> <p>Consumers wanting to rent a property, get an insurance quote or shop online are not given real choices about whether their personal data is shared for other purposes. This exposes Australians to scams, fraud, manipulation and discrimination.</p> <p>In fact, <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/consumers-lack-visibility-and-choice-over-data-collection-practices">many don’t even know</a> what kind of data has been collected about them and shared or sold by data firms and other third parties.</p> <p>Our privacy laws are due for reform. But Australia’s privacy commissioner <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">should also enforce</a> an existing rule: with very limited exceptions, businesses must not collect information about you from third parties.</p> <h2>What are data brokers?</h2> <p><a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">Data brokers</a> generally make their profits by collecting information about individuals from various sources and sharing this personal data with their many business clients. This can include detailed profiles of a person’s family, health, finances and movements.</p> <p>Data brokers often have no connection with the individual – you may not even recognise the name of a firm that holds vast amounts of information on you. Some of these data brokers are large multinational companies with billions of dollars in revenue.</p> <p>Consumer and privacy advocates provided the ACCC with evidence of highly concerning data broker practices. <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Salinger%20Privacy.pdf">One woman</a> tried to find out how data brokers had got hold of her information after receiving targeted medical advertising.</p> <p>Although she never discovered how they obtained her data, she found out it included her name, date of birth and contact details. It also included inferences about her, such as her retiree status, having no children, not having “high affluence” and being likely to donate to a charity.</p> <p>ACCC found another data broker was reportedly creating lists of individuals who may be experiencing vulnerability. The categories included:</p> <ul> <li>children, teenage girls and teenage boys</li> <li>“financially unsavvy” people</li> <li>elderly people living alone</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>religious minorities</li> <li>unemployed people</li> <li>people in financial distress</li> <li>new migrants</li> <li>people experiencing pain or who have visited certain medical facilities.</li> </ul> <p>These are all potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited, for example, by scammers or unscrupulous advertisers.</p> <h2>How do they get this information?</h2> <p>The ACCC notes <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/CPRC-working-paper-Not-a-fair-trade-March-2025.pdf">74% of Australians are uncomfortable</a> with their personal information being shared or sold.</p> <p>Nonetheless, data brokers sell and share Australian consumers’ personal information every day. Businesses we deal with – for example, when we buy a car or search for natural remedies on an online marketplace – both buy data about us from data brokers and provide them with more.</p> <p>The ACCC acknowledges consumers haven’t been given a choice about this.</p> <p>Attempting to read every privacy term is near impossible. The ACCC referred to a recent study which found it would take consumers <a href="https://www.mi-3.com.au/06-11-2023/aussies-face-10-hour-privacy-policy-marathon-finds-study">over 46 hours a month</a> to read every privacy policy they encounter.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=131&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/595623/original/file-20240522-23-2zkuc.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=165&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The approximate length and time it would take to read an average privacy policy in Australia per month.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.accc.gov.au/about-us/publications/serial-publications/digital-platform-services-inquiry-2020-25-reports/digital-platform-services-inquiry-interim-report-march-2024">ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry interim report</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Even if you could read every term, you still wouldn’t get a clear picture. Businesses use <a href="https://cprc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/CPRC-Singled-Out-Final-Feb-2024.pdf">vague wording</a> and data descriptions which <a href="https://theconversation.com/70-of-australians-dont-feel-in-control-of-their-data-as-companies-hide-behind-meaningless-privacy-terms-224072">confuse consumers</a> and have no fixed meaning. These include “pseudonymised information”, “hashed email addresses”, “aggregated information” and “advertising ID”.</p> <p>Privacy terms are also presented on a “take it or leave it” basis, even for transactions like applying for a rental property or buying insurance.</p> <p>The ACCC pointed out 41% of Australians feel they have been <a href="https://www.choice.com.au/consumers-and-data/data-collection-and-use/how-your-data-is-used/articles/choice-renttech-report-release">pressured to use “rent tech” platforms</a>. These platforms collect an increasing range of information with questionable connection to renting.</p> <h2>A first for Australian consumers</h2> <p>This is the first time an Australian regulator has made an in-depth report on the consumer data practices of data brokers, which are generally hidden from consumers. It comes <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/data-brokers-call-transparency-accountability-report-federal-trade-commission-may-2014/140527databrokerreport.pdf">ten years after</a> the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a similar inquiry into data brokers in the US.</p> <p>The ACCC report examined the data practices of nine data brokers and other “data firms” operating in Australia. (It added the term “data firms” because some companies sharing data about people argue that they are not data brokers.)</p> <p>A big difference between the Australian and the US reports is that the FTC is both the consumer watchdog and the <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312913">privacy regulator</a>. As our competition and consumer watchdog, the ACCC is meant to focus on competition and consumer issues.</p> <p>We also need our privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), to pay attention to these findings.</p> <h2>There’s a law against that</h2> <p>The ACCC report shows many examples of businesses collecting personal information about us from third parties. For example, you may be a customer of a business that only has your name and email address. But that business can purchase “<a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4224653">data enrichment</a>” services from a data broker to find out your age range, income range and family situation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2004A03712/latest/text">current Privacy Act</a> includes <a href="https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/australian-privacy-principles/read-the-australian-privacy-principles">a principle</a> that organisations must collect personal information only from the individual (you) unless it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so. “Impracticable” means practically impossible. This is the direct collection rule.</p> <p>Yet there is no reported case of the privacy commissioner enforcing the direct collection rule against a data broker or its business customers. Nor has the OAIC issued any specific guidance in this respect. It should do both.</p> <h2>Time to update our privacy laws</h2> <p>Our privacy law was drafted in 1988, long before this complex web of digital data practices emerged. Privacy laws in places such as California and the European Union provide much stronger protections.</p> <p>The government has <a href="https://ministers.ag.gov.au/media-centre/speeches/privacy-design-awards-2024-02-05-2024">announced</a> it plans to introduce a privacy law reform bill this August.</p> <p>The ACCC report reinforces the need for vital amendments, including a direct right of action for individuals and a rule requiring dealings in personal information to be “fair and reasonable”.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/230540/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katharine-kemp-402096">Katharine Kemp</a>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law &amp; Justice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/worried-your-address-birth-date-or-health-data-is-being-sold-you-should-be-and-the-law-isnt-protecting-you-230540">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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"I felt duped": 95-year-old loses $1.6 million in bank scam

<p>A 95-year-old has been left feeling "sick" after she was scammed out of $1.6 million by heartless scammers claiming to be a bank. </p> <p>In November last year, Harriet Spring received a call from a man who called himself George Thompson, and said he worked for ING Bank. </p> <p>The man gained Harriet's trust over several months, at the difficult time that the great-grandmother was handling the sale of her mother's house.</p> <p>"Over time, I completely thought he was from ING, I had no reason to believe he wasn't," she told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/95-year-old-great-grandmother-loses-more-than-1-million-life-savings-to-scammers/f41540e7-f5c9-4c3b-89a7-ac94dd81bf6a" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"George" then convinced Harriet the money from the sale of the house could build interest in an ING account, but it was actually being held by Westpac Bank.</p> <p>"It sounds implausible now, but the scammer had me convinced and I told my mother's bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, that this was an ING fixed term deposit, but it was being put in the Westpac bank," she said.</p> <p>"I put down the BSB number and the account number and what I thought was my name attached to the account, (my mother's bank) pointed out that it seems strange and ING account would be held with Westpac, but they still went ahead and authorised the transfer."</p> <p>When Harriet realised the scammers had taken hold of her life savings totalling $1.6 million, she felt "sick". </p> <p>"Obviously my world just fell out from under me - I just felt sick," she said.</p> <p>"I felt utterly responsible, I felt duped, foolish, ashamed - a lot of shame associated with it and I think that's why a lot of people don't come forward and talk about this kind of thing."</p> <p>Harriet has shared her story as a warning for others to be wary of potential scammers, while also calling on banks to have better protocols in place to stop suspicious transactions from going through. </p> <p>"Someone with basic training from the bank would have known that ING don't bank with any other banks and they should have flagged it," she said.</p> <p>"I believe the reality is that the banks 100 per cent put the blame on the victims and they minimise their own liability."</p> <p>"There should be some sort of system for compensating victims, the banks don't commit the theft, but they certainly drive the getaway car and they need to be held responsible for being complicit with this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

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How to avoid 6 common tourist scams

<p>Often when people are on holidays their focus is on relaxing or seeing the sights of the area. But if you don’t keep your wits about you, it’s possible you might end up losing everything to scammers who will do anything to get their hands on your belongings.</p> <p>Here we have six common scams to look out for while you are travelling abroad.</p> <p><strong>Scam 1:</strong> You are in a busy bar in a tourist friendly area when some locals ask where you’re from and offer to buy you a drink. Without thinking, you accept the drink and then find yourself waking up hours later without any of your belongings as you’ve had your drink spiked.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> If people seem too friendly, be aware that they may be scammers. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know, and don’t leave your drink unattended to use the bathroom.</p> <p><strong>Scam 2:</strong> You are about to put your handbag and computer on the conveyer belt to go through the scanner. The people in front of you walk through the metal detector and while one goes through, the other sets off the alarms. They step back into where you are standing and take their time removing wallets and coins from their pockets. While you are waiting for your turn to walk through the metal detector, the other person has taken your belongings and is long gone.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Don’t place your items on the conveyer belt until there is no one else waiting in front of you to go through the metal detector.</p> <p><strong>Scam 3:</strong> In a busy area such as after a concert or a busy night like New Year’s Eve it can be impossible to get public transport or a taxi back to your hotel. A friendly looking guy comes by and offers you a lift for a reasonable fee using his private car. The scam itself can then range from being charged an exorbitant amount when you arrive at your hotel – or you could even find yourself robbed and dropped by the side of the road with no way home.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> However tempting it is, never get in the car with an unlicensed taxi driver. This is even more important to note if you are travelling alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 4:</strong> While you are waiting with your luggage for a train or bus, a passer-by appears to drop their wallet and walk off without noticing. You might try to do the right thing by grabbing the wallet and running after the person to return it. By the time you get back, your luggage is missing.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> When travelling alone, never leave your items unattended even if it means you don’t help someone when you normally would. This is especially true in airports where baggage will quickly be confiscated if left alone.</p> <p><strong>Scam 5:</strong> You’re taking in the sights when a couple of men dressed as policemen approach you. They demand to see your wallet and let you know that counterfeit money has been given to tourists in the area. When your wallet is returned it has had much of the contents removed.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Police would never demand to see your wallet. If something doesn’t feel right, suggest that you continue the discussion at the nearest police station as you don’t feel comfortable. Most likely they will not push their luck.</p> <p><strong>Scam 6:</strong> You receive a phone call in your hotel room late at night from someone claiming to be from the front desk. They apologise for the late call but request that you just confirm your credit card details as their system is playing up. You read out the numbers and hang up. Before too long your credit card has rung up a huge bill as this was a scammer calling you, not a staff member.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Solution:</em></span> Organise payment in person by letting the caller know that you will come down to the front desk to discuss it.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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Kochie's thoughtful act for scam victim

<p>David Koch has given back to a hard-working Aussie who lost her life savings to a convincing scam. </p> <p>For many years, scammers have been using the likeness of Australian celebrities to con people out of their money. </p> <p>Kochie is just one of many high-profile personalities who have had their identities used to run convincing scams, that thousands of people have fallen victim to. </p> <p>The former <em>Sunrise</em> host has often taken to social media to warn people of the illegitimate ads, but it hasn't been enough to stop the scammers in their tracks. </p> <p>In a special <em>7News Spotlight</em> investigation, Kochie joined the team to lift the lid on the multi-billion-dollar scam industry in which fake advertisements featuring well-known celebrities have been used to con more than 600,000 Aussies.</p> <p>“It’s devastating because it’s my reputation on the line,” says Koch.</p> <p>“And these scams are so good, they’re so believable that people who trust me look at me and say, ‘Wow, I’m getting some comfort out of what this bloke is saying,’ and then are ripped off by some scammer from overseas.”</p> <p>Koch is desperately trying to stop this criminal act, saying, “I’ve reported it to the ACCC and ASIC. I’m part of an ACCC case against Meta at the moment surrounding these scam ads.”</p> <p>As part of the investigation, Kochie met Allison, who lost $250,000 when she invested her money in what she thought was a reputable company, fronted by who she believed to be the former <em>Sunrise</em> host.</p> <p>As an avid Port Adelaide supporter, she trusts Koch, who is also the Chairman of the football club.</p> <p>“Port Adelaide members are all part of a big family,” says Koch. “And the fact that these scammers use my association with the club to prey on members is just abhorrent.”</p> <p>After losing her savings, Allison has been struggling to make ends meet, and is on a payment plan so she can stay as a member of the AFL club she loves.</p> <p>After learning of her story, Koch himself has stepped in and ensured she has lifelong membership.</p> <p>“It’s the least we can do,” says Koch to Allison. “Because, football has got to be your haven.”</p> <p>Allison is just one of the many victims of complex scams in Australia, with reporter Sarah Greenhalgh believes millions of dollars have been illegally stolen.</p> <p>“The scammers successfully prey on these people’s unique vulnerabilities and the victims’ lives have changed forever as a result,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News Spotlight</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Tourist slapped with $225k bill after simple mistake

<p>An American tourist has revealed the moment he was charged with a $US143k (AU$225k) bill after a short holiday to Switzerland. </p> <p>Rene Remund and his wife Linda went on the trip last September.</p> <p>Prior to their travels, Remund made sure to inform his mobile phone provider, T-Mobile, that he was going overseas and as a customer of 30 years, he was told he was “covered”.</p> <p>So, with no worries at all, the tourist shared photos of his moments in the Swiss countryside with friends and family via photo messages. </p> <p>Imagine his surprise when he came home to a six-figure bill, after he racked up thousands and thousands of dollars in daily roaming costs. </p> <p>“I get this T-Mobile bill and it doesn’t bother me very much because I was reading $143,” he explained, adding it wasn’t until he went to pay the bill that he realised a few more zeros were involved.</p> <p>“I look at the bill and I say, ‘excuse me’,” he said.</p> <p>“$143,000 … are you guys crazy?”</p> <p>According to the bill, Remund had racked up 9.5 gigabytes of data while in Europe, which cost him thousands of dollars each day. While it wasn't a huge amount of data, not being covered by roaming fees will cause a user to run up a huge bill very quickly. </p> <p>“I called [T-Mobile] and the girl put me on hold for a while,” he explained.</p> <p>“She said let me check this out and I’ll get back to you. She gets back and says, yeah this is a good bill.</p> <p>“I said, ‘what do you mean it’s a good bill?’ And she says ‘well, this is what you owe’.</p> <p>“I said ‘you’re kidding me … you’re crazy’.”</p> <p>After confirming that his bill was in fact  AU$225,000, Remund hired a lawyer to argue the fact that he was covered for international roaming. </p> <p>His lawyer issued a letter to the president of T-Mobile, and they only received a reply a few days ago. </p> <p>The letter from T-Mobile allegedly said that the service provider was “sorry” for the charges, and that Remund would receive a “credit” to eliminate the entire bill. </p> <p>In an email shared to local media <em>Scripps News Tampa</em>, the mobile phone provider said that customers should always “check the travel features of their plan, such as international data roaming, before departing”.</p> <p>“If a customer is on an older plan that doesn’t include international roaming for data and calling, they’ll need to make sure they’re using aeroplane mode and wi-fi when using data to be certain the device doesn’t connect to an international network.”</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: ABC Action News</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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Millions of phones at risk of being cut off from calling triple-0

<p>Over a million Aussies may be unable to contact triple-0 as two major telcos cut their 3G networks. </p> <p>Telstra's network will be closed on June 30 this year followed by Optus, which will shut their 3G network in September.</p> <p>While most late model phones are now serviced by either 4G or 5G networks, there are many devices that still rely on 3G. </p> <p>Approximately 113,000 Telstra customers have not upgraded their 3G handsets, while Optus have not disclosed a figure.</p> <p>The greater concerns lie for older 4G-enabled handsets that may not be able to call triple-0 once the 3G networks are switched off, because of the way those phones are configured.</p> <p>In March, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland was informed that 740,000 Australians were in that category.  </p> <p>A month later, that figure was revised to over a million. </p> <p>"I welcome the industry’s first report to government but am concerned around their disclosure of around one million potentially impacted consumers,” the minister said. </p> <p>“I am considering the detail provided and next steps, and the government will have more to say about the 3G switchover soon.”</p> <p>She also said that they were open to delaying the switchover  "if warranted in the public interest”.</p> <p>“Options exist under law for the government to consider proposals to delay the planned switchover, subject to consultation and procedural processes,” she said.</p> <p>Telstra has informed customers about what to do if they are affected, and how they could check. </p> <p>“If your mobile device doesn’t have Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, even if it uses 4G data, it will not be able to make voice calls on our network after 30 June 2024,” they informed their customers. </p> <p>“Not all VoLTE enabled devices support emergency VoLTE calling, meaning they will not be able to make an emergency call to triple-0 once 3G closes." </p> <p>“Without taking the recommended action you won’t be able to connect to a network after 30 June 2024,” they warned. </p> <p>Customers who are worried that they might be impacted, are encouraged to text 3 to the number 3498, so that the telco can inform the customer on their connection status.</p> <p>Optus have also encouraged customers to contact them if they think they may be affected. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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War veteran loses $18,000 to Netflix scam

<p>Shane Arnold, 71, was left with nothing after he fell for an elaborate Netflix scam, allegedly run by a teenager. </p> <p>The war veteran was robbed of $18,000 when he thought he was entitled to a refund after receiving a fake Netflix email.</p> <p>After he entered his personal banking details, the accused scammer allegedly used this information to call Arnold the following day claiming to be a security officer from Commonwealth Bank.</p> <p>"(It was) extremely convincing," Arnold told <em>9News</em>. </p> <p>"He spoke in a posh English accent."</p> <p>Arnold was allegedly told by a 19-year-old, whose voice had been disguised with AI, that his account had been compromised and ordered to put his bank cards in a bag, to be collected by a driver.</p> <p>Hours later, the accused teen who is from Braybrook, Melbourne allegedly withdrew thousands of dollars from ATMs in Braybrook and West Footscray, and purchased dozens of gift cards from Kmart.</p> <p>He also allegedly filled up on fuel, bought a new iPhone, and some strawberry milk and ice cream. </p> <p>The teen has since been charged over the incident, but Arnold is still fighting hard to get his money back. </p> <p>"I've worked for 50-odd years to get that money," he told the publication, adding that he felt "like my heart had been ripped out".</p> <p>The senior also claimed that the bank was partly to blame, and has lodged a report to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) who are currently managing his case. </p> <p>Arnold added that Commonwealth Bank had only offered to reimburse him $1000, and said that everyone who'd been scammed deserved to have their money returned to them.</p> <p>"I hope all those people get their money back," he said.</p> <p>"None of them deserved to be scammed and none of them did anything wrong."</p> <p><em>Images: Nine News</em></p>

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"It was devastating": Grandfather loses $1 million in scam before his death

<p>A "vulnerable" and "lonely" grandfather lost over $1 million in a complex scam in the months before he died, with his son now issuing a warning to others. </p> <p>Adrian Heartsch was described by his family as a "frugal" man, who had no experience with online banking before becoming involved in the scam. </p> <p>“Unless he knew exactly what he was paying for – he wouldn’t pay for it,” his son Simon Heartsch told <em>A Current Affair</em>.</p> <p>“I said to him if somebody can scam you, they can scam anybody.”</p> <p>He soon connected with someone online, who called themselves a woman named Vida and charmed him with sweet talk and pet names, and soon earned his trust.</p> <p>“He wasn’t alone, but he was lonely. He had no company, he didn’t even have his dog anymore to talk to,” his son told <em>ACA</em>. “So I guess he’s vulnerable in that way.”</p> <p>The woman convinced Mr Heartsch to send her several Apple gift cards, claiming he would be given over $20 million worth of gold bars or gold bullion in return.</p> <p>She also promised the grandfather that she would come to Australia and live “happily ever after” with him. </p> <p>Simon only discovered the truth about his father's finance and the long-running scam when Adrian landed in hospital. </p> <p>“We brought up these emails that were just gobsmacking,” he said. “The story grew from $300,000 to $600,000 to up and up and up … over a million dollars.”</p> <p>The ruse had been going on for three years, and saw Mr Heartsch buy up to $10,000 worth of Apple gift cards from several shops in a single day. </p> <p>Simon said his father was “mortified” after learning the truth and didn’t want to pursue a case with the police.</p> <p>The scam cost the 77-year-old almost everything, robbing him of his savings, truck and caravan, leaving him with only his home. </p> <p>Shortly after, Mr Heartsch fell “sicker and sicker” as his health deteriorated, and he passed away a month after his family learned of the scam.</p> <p>“It was like all this was the nail in the coffin, it was devastating for him, his whole life savings he’s lost,” said Simon.</p> <p>Adrian's family went searching for answers, and with the help of a cyber security expert, discovered that the scammer was operating out of Ghana in West Africa. </p> <p>Following his father’s death, Simon urged others to watch out for loved ones who may be vulnerable to “horrible” scammers. </p> <p>“They’re ruining peoples’ lives. They’re speeding up people’s deaths,” he said. “They’re preying on the vulnerable.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

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“Unbelievably legitimate”: Deb Knight falls victim to popular scam

<p>Deb Knight has shared how she fell victim to a popular scam, losing $1,200 while trying to get Taylor Swift tickets for her daughter's birthday. </p> <p>Like many people around Australia, the veteran journalist was eager to get her hands on tickets to the highly anticipated Eras Tour as a once in a lifetime surprise for her eight-year-old daughter's birthday present.</p> <p>After missing out on tickets through all official channels, Deb thought hope was lost, until a friend reached out to her. </p> <p>“A really good friend, who I’ve known all my life, contacted me and said, ‘do you still want Taylor Swift tickets?’” Knight told <em>A Current Affair</em>.</p> <p>“It was my daughter’s eighth birthday and getting my hands on these tickets would be the best present ever."</p> <p>“My friend put me in contact with her friend who had the tickets – or so I thought.”</p> <p>Knight had received a phone call from her close friend who said her cousin was selling tickets, but unbeknownst to everyone involved, the friend’s Facebook account had been hacked. </p> <p>Deb promised to pay half the cost of the tickets as a bond, then pay the rest after she had seen the tickets, which she said looked “unbelievably legitimate". </p> <p>Tech expert Trevor Long joined Deb on <em>ACA</em>, and noticed one major error about the fake tickets. </p> <p>“The difference is a genuine Taylor Swift ticket in an Apple Wallet right now does not have that barcode.”</p> <p>Alarm bells started ringing for the veteran journalist when the so-called seller said the payment had not come through, but by then it was too late.</p> <p>Deb contacted her bank but it was too late to get her $1,200 back, and her hunt to find Taylor Swift tickets continued. </p> <p>“I realised I’d been scammed. I felt sick to the stomach, absolutely humiliated. I also felt embarrassed and ashamed,” she said.</p> <p>“I was reluctant to speak publicly about this but I think we’ve got to. We have to normalise it so people feel there’s less of a stigma about it."</p> <p>“It happens to everyone, even Deb Knight – it’s disgusting, what’s happening, so something needs to be done.”</p> <p>Police have warned Swifties who missed out on tickets to the singer’s upcoming tour not to fall prey to ticketing scams, and only to purchase tickets through official channels such as Ticketek marketplace. </p> <p>Since tickets for the Eras tour went on sale last June, and subsequently sold out in record timing, Victoria Police said there had been more than 250 reports of ticketing scams for Taylor Swift shows alone.</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"Stuff youse": Pensioner who's never owned a phone fights mobile detection camera fine

<p>A pensioner from New South Wales has disputed a fine he was issued for using his phone while driving, despite never owning a phone. </p> <p>Frank Singh, 77, was captured on a mobile phone detection camera while driving on the Pacific Motorway last September, and was issued a fine for $362. </p> <p>Mr Singh has refused to pay the fine, claiming that he was holding his wallet when the image was captured. </p> <p>He also claims to have never owned a mobile phone or a computer in his life, wondering how the camera made such a mistake. </p> <p>The senior man decided to appeal and take Revenue NSW to court, despite the risk of paying thousands in legal fees if he lost the case.</p> <p>"Looks like I'm guilty on it, but I'm not," he told <em>A Current Affair</em>. </p> <p>"I thought, what the bloody hell is this all about, I don't own a mobile phone. I've never used a mobile phone. What a load of s***."</p> <p>When questioned what the item could be, he said, "I think it could be my wallet."</p> <p>While Mr Singh admitted he can't specifically remember what he was doing at the time, he believes he was possibly placing his wallet on the passenger seat after paying for fuel. </p> <p>Unfortunately, the review of the fine was rejected and Frank was ordered to pay the $362, but he has not given up. </p> <p>"Then I thought stuff youse, I'm not guilty, I don't own a bloody phone," he said.</p> <p>While preparing to appeal the fine once more, Revenue NSW revoked the fine after issuing a letter to Mr Singh saying he would not be required in court following an investigation by the government body. </p> <p>"We have decided to cancel the fine," the letter read. </p> <p>"You little bloody beauty, how good's that," Mr Singh said on hearing the news, before planning to celebrate the win with a beer at his local pub. </p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

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"Too good to be true": Bank teller saves couple from losing $40k

<p>A Tasmanian couple have been saved from losing $40k into an online investment scam after a bank teller noticed the red flags. </p> <p>The couple visited the NAB branch in Rosny, Hobart after their account was blocked during an attempt to transfer the money to an ‘online investment firm’ in Perth. </p> <p>The payment was the first of two instalments that they were set to pay the "firm" but NAB Customer Advisor Erin Bugg saved them from a massive loss. </p> <p>Bugg became suspicious of the firm after they promised a 12 per cent return on their term deposit  and a guaranteed pay out if the firm went bust. </p> <p>“If there was a scam red flags bingo card, ‘online investment opportunity’ would be top of the list,”  the NAB Customer Advisor said. </p> <p>“Immediately, alarm bells went off for me. It sounded like an investment scam and I was concerned this couple could lose their life savings.” </p> <p>The couple, however, insisted that they weren't being scammed so Bugg decided to look into the matter further and found a website and article about the firm. </p> <p>When she looked into the rates they offered she realised it “was literally too good to be true." </p> <p>“No one likes to be told they’re being lied to, especially when they feel like they’ve done all the right things. They had done their own research, and even spoken to the company on the phone,” she said. </p> <p>She added that "alarm bells" started ringing when the wife explained that a man from the firm kept calling her to thank her for the investment and encourage her to open an account. </p> <p>The couple then rang the "firm" in front of Bugg to try and convince her it was real. </p> <p>“I declined to speak to the ‘firm’, but I could hear them telling the customers, ‘Oh, NAB always flags us as a scam’,’”  she recalled. </p> <p>NAB’s fraud team then informed them that the firm had a bank account at another bank, and to call the bank to confirm whether it was legit. </p> <p>After calling the other bank, they found that the account was not connected to the investment firm and suggested them to not transfer anything. </p> <p>“It was such a relief to hear from the customer that they’d avoided being scammed,” Bugg said. </p> <p>This comes after Scamwatch received  over 7,000 reports of investment scams collectively costing Aussies  over $275 million in the last year. </p> <p><em>Image: NAB </em></p>

Money & Banking

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8 places you should never keep your phone

<p><strong>In your pocket</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone in your pocket seems logical, but you could be doing more harm than good. According to Dr Lilly Friedman, this is actually the worst place to store your phone. “When phones are on, connected to a wireless network, and placed in a pocket, the radiation is two to seven times higher than if it were placed in a purse or holster,” she says.</p> <p>There is a correlation between radiation from a mobile phone and tumour growth, she adds. Plus, radiation can change the structure of DNA and affect male fertility, according to Dr Friedman. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer also found that mobile phone radiation is additionally carcinogenic to humans. Merely sitting on your phone could cause health issues such as sciatica or back problems.</p> <p><strong>In your bra</strong></p> <p>Some research and case studies show that keeping your phone in your bra could be linked to breast cancer due to the radiations and vibrations from the phone. That said, there is not enough evidence to establish a definite relationship between the two. Still, keeping your phone in your bra, especially a sports bra, is a bad idea due to the skin-irritating bacteria it could harbour, Muscle &amp; Fitness reports.</p> <p><strong>In your bed or under your pillow</strong></p> <p>Sleeping with your phone is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, keeping your phone under your pillow could build up heat and present a potential fire hazard, especially if your phone is charging or has a defect. It’s also known that the LED light from phone screens can disrupt melatonin production and circadian rhythms, hurting your sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation.</p> <p>And, of course, there’s also radiation to consider. The amounts of radio frequency radiation mobile phones give off are the same ones emitted from microwaves. There is also concern about the safety of mobile phone use with respect to cancer and brain tumours, per the American Cancer Society.</p> <p><strong>Plugged in</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone plugged in when it has a full battery causes damage to the battery itself, according to pcmag.com. It’s not that your phone ‘overloads’ with power, but heat build-ups from stacking things on top of your phone or keeping it under your pillow, making your phone hotter and damaging your battery.</p> <p><strong>Close to your face</strong></p> <p>Keeping your phone close to your face means bacteria transfers to and from your phone, making your skin and phone dirtier. This combination leads to more acne, skin irritation and even wrinkles, according to Allure. Try using ear pods instead to keep the surface of your phone at a distance from your face.</p> <p><strong>In your glovebox</strong></p> <p>Extreme temperatures are the worst conditions for your phone. So keeping your device in your car’s glovebox during the extremely hot or cold months of the year could lead to problems. According to Time, excess heat can cause everything from data loss or corruption to battery leakage. The cold weather presents just as many issues for your device. In cold temperatures, many smartphones shut off, have display problems, shortened battery life and in rare cases screen shattering.</p> <p><strong>On your beach towel </strong></p> <p>Notice a theme here? The extreme sun and heat at the beach is a recipe for phone disaster. Protect your device after you finish taking beautiful beach pictures. Hot and sunny conditions could, again, cause your phone to overheat – and getting sand in your phone won’t help either.</p> <p><strong>Anywhere in the bathroom</strong></p> <p>Although phones could arguably be the new newspaper, it’s not a good idea to take yours into the bathroom. Even if you keep your device on a counter or away from the toilet, anything within a metre of a flushing toilet could mean bacteria or viruses in the air end up on your phone, according to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.</p> <p>“The detection of bacteria and viruses falling out onto surfaces in bathrooms after flushing indicated that they remain airborne long enough to settle on surfaces throughout the bathroom,” wrote the study authors.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/8-places-you-should-never-keep-your-phone" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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