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Long Distance Charges Can Result From Dialer Viruses & Websites

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Tuckersmith Communications reminds its customers to exercise caution when downloading "adult" content, games, or music videos from entertainment sites on the Web. Some sites use "dialer" programs to enable you to view their content and these can occasionally disconnect your computer from your regular Internet Service Provider (ISP) and reconnect to an international number, often without your knowledge, resulting in substantial long distance charges on your phone bill. These dialer programs can also be contracted in the form of a dialer virus through infected email, chat lines and from downloaded file sharing software.

Why and how?
These websites may require you to download an application to access certain areas of their site. Once the application is fully downloaded to your system, it states in fine, almost illegible print, that long distance rates may be charged to your account. This fine print very clearly indicates that this application will be establishing a link with a server outside your country and that your phone bill will be charged a certain amount. Also, you may not be informed of the charges when downloading the application, but you are always informed of the charges on your phone bill. There are hundreds of sites of this type, and the application name, rate structure, and layout can differ widely.

Once you have accepted this warning, the application issues a command to your modem to establish a second Internet connection. The modem then dials a telephone number that connects you to a server located outside the country. Since you are still on the Internet, you don't realize that you are no longer connected via your local ISP, but via long distance instead.

Prime targets

The most likely victims of this scam are Internet subscribers with any dial-up connection, regardless of the ISP. Customers of services that offer free Internet access are especially vulnerable. Many ads for such sites can be found on the registration forms of sites that offer free Internet access.

High Speed service subscribers are not as vulnerable to this type of fraud because the modems they use are unable to connect simultaneously to two numbers. The connection would shut down and reopen, thus alerting the customer.

However, there is still cause for concern for a High Speed subscriber who uses the modem as a fax or users who have high speed and have a dial-up modem still installed and connected to the phone line. The customer is no longer protected, because the computer can theoretically connect to the Web by dialing the other side of the world; some customers have both a high-speed modem and an integrated modem (for dial-up connection). If the integrated modem is still plugged into the phone jack, it can dial overseas without warning.

Precautions

  • Read all software user agreements carefully, especially if downloaded from the Internet.
  • Use anti-virus programs to search and remove dialer viruses from your computer.
  • Check the phone number the modem dials to establish Internet access (dial-up connection). Make sure it is your local ISP number. Many people have had nasty surprises when they found out that their ISP server was in the United States and that every minute they spent surfing the Web was long distance.
  • Check the number of your Internet dial-up connection regularly. Follow the procedure applicable to your operating system:
  • High-speed customers should make sure their integrated dial-up modem is disconnected from the phone jack.
  • Disconnect the modem from the phone line when the Internet service is not in use (dial-up and high-speed customers).

Your responsibility

 

Under the terms of the Tuckersmith Communications service agreement, which are prescribed by the CRTC, customers are responsible for their calls, as specified in section 8.01 below:

Section Customer liability for calls
8.01 Customers are responsible for paying for all calls originating from, and charged calls accepted at, their telephones, regardless of who made them or accepted them.

 
 

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