Auto Dialers

Those huge phone bills from long-distance calls you never made may have been made by your computer while you were asleep!

People can take advantage of your modem without your knowledge to make long-distance telephone calls and bill them to your phone account. This is done through the use of computer programs you may have downloaded inadvertently. Some work while you’re on the Internet by disconnecting your dial-up connection and then reconnecting it through a new Internet dial-up number. Others go to work, dialing away, when your computers been idle for a specified amount of time.

Here’s how you can avoid this trap:

  • Read EVERYTHING before clicking OK, especially when you are going to download something
  • Call your telephone service provider (not your ISP)
  • Turn off your computer and modem when not in use
  • Don’t delete data from your browser’s history files, so that you can trace back problems if necessary
  • Monitor other people when they use the Internet on your computer
  • Be especially careful of adult content sites

There may be a surprise lurking in your next phone bill

Known as dialer hijacking, Internet dumping or modem hijacking – this type of scam has become increasingly prevalent over the past several years. What is “Internet dumping”? It occurs when a Web site you are visiting purposely disconnects you from your local Internet service provider (ISP) and reconnects you through another one, usually using an international phone number or one that’s expensive to use. The Web site will usually ask your permission first, but the request may be written in tiny print among lots of other information about free downloads or software. Auto-dialers occur most often on adult-oriented websites although they are not limited only to these.

The auto dialers gain access to your system by being downloaded using a ActiveX script. Most Internet browsers come with a setting that allows you to accept or reject ActiveX scripts. Make sure you set this feature to prompt you before any ActiveX code attempts to run on your system. The trick here is that you have to install the dialer yourself and trickery is usually involved in order to convince you to install it. A good general rule is to never install something on the web unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are installing.

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