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Download: docHow to use less data on your smartphone60.5 KB

Download: pdfHow to use less data on your smartphone417.34 KB

Smartphones can chew through your data allowance without you realising it. This can be because data-hungry apps are left open or simply due to default settings on your phone.

It can be very expensive if you go over your monthly data allowance. Our blog post on excess mobile data charges outlines what some of the telcos charge for going over your mobile data allowance.

Group of friends taking selfie photo on phone

Download: docIntroduction to Social Media62 KB

Download: pdfIntroduction to Social Media326.36 KB

What is social media?

Social networking on social media websites involves the use of the internet to connect users with their friends, family and acquaintances. Social media websites are not necessarily about meeting new people online, although this does happen. Instead, they are primarily about connecting with friends, family and acquaintances you already have. The most well-known social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. These websites allow you to share photos, videos and information, organise events, chat, and play online games.

Man with backpack on street smiling at phone

Download: docxTravelling overseas with a mobile phone50.95 KB

Download: pdfTravelling overseas with a mobile phone346.11 KB

If you are travelling overseas and would like to use your mobile phone you have a number of options to consider.

Young man and woman unwittingly using too much dataIf you do not monitor how much data you are using each month on your smartphone or tablet, you could be in for a nasty surprise. The tips below will help you avoid an unexpectedly high bill.

  1. Know your data allowance
    This is usually measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB).

  2. Know your billing period and extra charges
    Keep track of when your monthly billing period starts and finishes. Read the Critical Information Summary (CIS) to see what extra charges you will incur by going over your data, call or text allowance. Depending on your provider, you can be charged a per megabyte charge for every megabyte you use over your data limit or you may get upgraded to an extra data package at an extra cost (for example, $10 for an extra gigabyte of data). For more information, read our excess data charges article.

How to make a complaint infographic

Download: docHow to make a complaint that gets heard59 KB

Download: pdfHow to make a complaint that gets heard334.12 KB

If you have a problem with your phone or internet provider, you have a right to complain. Making a successful complaint is straightforward, especially when you know your rights.

Here are five simple steps to make sure your complaint is heard and resolved quickly.

What affects the quality of my broadband infographic

Download: docxWhat affects the quality of my broadband brochure40.75 KB

Download: pdfWhat affects the quality of my broadband brochure404.28 KB

Hello...hello...can you hear me..?

Is poor internet preventing you from talking with family and friends, watching your favourite shows or uploading photos of your recent adventures to share with everybody?

Woman holding up phone looking for mobile receptionDownload: docPoor mobile reception: what can you do?58 KB

Download: pdfPoor mobile reception: what can you do?413.37 KB

From time to time most of us will have a call drop out, delayed texts or slow internet on our mobile phone. But, if you regularly have mobile reception problems, then you are not getting the service you are paying for.

Front cover image of the tipsheet How to Choose an Internet Service Provider docDownload: How to choose an ISP.doc71 KB

pdfDownload: How to choose an ISP.pdf797.66 KB

When choosing an ISP, small businesses need to think carefully about the quality of the service they require. ACCAN's Tip Sheet 'Preparing your organisation's Broadband Continuity Plan' provides guidance on matching the quality of IT services with the importance of these services to your business.

There will always be a price/quality trade off when choosing an ISP and most small businesses will need higher quality than the typical household or individual consumer plan. Many ISPs have business areas on their web sites and offer 'Business Grade' services. Carefully consider the inclusions and exclusions in these plans and match them to your business needs.

Young woman reviewing her bill while holding her disconnected phoneWhat are your rights?

Network outage? No service? Call failure?

  • If you have been disadvantaged or lost money due to a phone or internet outage, you might be able to claim compensation.
  • Compensation should make up for your loss.
  • For example, if your internet is out for one week you could ask for your money back for that week. You may be able to claim for costs incurred, like getting your internet fixed or using extra mobile data.

Boy using mobile devicesDownload: docHidden costs in free apps57.5 KB

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While some games or apps cost nothing to download on our smartphones or tablets, they often contain extra elements you can purchase within the game, known as “in-app purchases.” It is easy to make in-app purchases with many parents reporting that their children are buying things within games, not realising that they cost their parents real money through their iTunes, Google Play or Amazon account.

Download: docNBN Switch-over Tip Sheet70.5 KB

Download: pdfNBN Switch-over Tip Sheet332.59 KB

Tips for people in NBN switch-over areas

Your area is being switched-over to the NBN fixed line network. That means the old phone and broadband network is being switched off soon. You need to switch your service over to an NBN plan if you want to continue using fixed line services, such as phone, internet or security and medical alarms. Here are ACCAN's top tips for switching over to the NBN.

Two students using their mobile phonesDownload: docMobile data: what you need to know66.5 KB

Download: pdfMobile data: what you need to know320.75 KB

Most smartphone plans come with a monthly data allowance, for example 500MB or 1GB (this is how much internet use you are allowed each month).

Man looking worried about billsThis can happen for lots of reasons: you might have lost your job, had a death in the family or suffered an illness or injury. Every provider has what is known as a “financial hardship policy” that will help you keep your service and pay off your bill over time.

ACCAN’s Harship Portal is designed to help consumers by giving them information on how the telcos and other organisations can offer assistance when times get tough. Visit the Portal for more information on dealing with hardship.

Cover image of the fixed voice continuity plan pdfFixed Voice Continuity Plan.pdf409.05 KB

docFixed Voice Continuity Plan.doc71.5 KB

Your business landline (fixed voice service) can be a critical business asset. If your fixed voice service failed, would your business continue to operate effectively?

Back-up (or failover) solutions for fixed voice services vary considerably depending on the size of your organisation and the purposes for which you use these services. Most small businesses are highly dependent on their fixed voice services so a continuity plan is important.

To minimise risk to your business from failure of your fixed voice services you should:

  • Perform a 'risk assessment' for your business's use of telecommunications

  • Obtain the most reliable fixed voice service that you can afford – to match the level of risk.

  • Write an action plan for what you would do in the event of a disruption to this service (outage)

Father and daughter using mobiles in the parkDownload: docHow to choose a pre-paid calling card55.5 KB

Download:pdfHow to choose a pre-paid calling card300.88 KB

Pre-paid calling cards can be a cheap way to make international calls and many offer good value for money. But, be warned, there are also many cards you should avoid buying because of hidden fees and charges.

Download: docxAvoiding phone and internet scams49.96 KB

Download: pdfAvoiding phone and internet scams430.37 KB

Scams are an unfortunate fact of using the internet and your phone. Although there are ongoing efforts to shut down scammers, it is important for you to be aware of possible scams so that you can avoid being caught out.

Types of scams

There are a lot of scams out there. Many of them attempt to take your money. Others try to access your personal information, which could be used for identity fraud. Some attempt to gain access to your computer.

A few examples of these scams include:

Cover image of the business continuity plan tipsheetdocDownload: Business Continuity Plan61 KB

pdfDownload: Business Continuity Plan310.03 KB

What is a 'Business Continuity Plan' (BCP)?

It is a fact of life that emergencies will happen, and computer and communications systems will fail. To minimise the problems for your business it is advisable to have a business continuity plan which:

  • Outlines what you have done in advance to prevent interruptions to vital services

  • Lists the steps you and staff will take during an interruption to continue operations

  • Lists the steps you will take to fully restore services after an interruption

  • Sets up a Post Incident Review (PIR) after an interruption has occurred

Sample BCPs are available on the internet where you will also find sites that have extensive instructions on their construction and implementation.

Cover of Broadband Continuity Plan tipsheet

docDownload: Broadband Continuity Plan74 KB

pdfDownload: Broadband Continuity Plan252.67 KB

Your broadband service can be a critical business asset. If your broadband service failed, could your business continue to operate effectively?

To minimise the risk you are advised to:

a) Perform a risk assessment for your business use of broadband

b) Obtain the most resilient broadband service that you can afford – to match the level of risk.

c) Write an action plan of what you would do if you broadband failed (outage)

Credit reporting tipsheet coverDownload: docCredit Reporting72.5 KB

Download: pdfCredit Reporting817.83 KB

What is credit reporting?

Credit reporting is used by organisations to help decide whether or not they are willing to lend money to a particular person. Credit providers and credit reporting agencies are the main organisations involved in credit reporting. Credit providers are businesses such as banks, car loan  companies and telecommunications service providers that lend money or provide credit to their customers.

Credit providers send information about your debts to private companies called credit reporting agencies (CRAs). There are three main CRAs in Australia:

Download: docxQuestions to ask before signing a phone contract47.72 KB

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Before you sign up for a mobile phone contract or new plan, it is important that you fully understand what is included. You should ask your provider the following questions:

Ensuring the security of multiple online accounts might seem like a big task, but it is important you do not use the same password for all of your accounts.

Download: docMy home broadband is slow or unreliable57 KB

Download: pdfMy home broadband is slow or unreliable301.81 KB

Many factors can affect the quality of your broadband connection. This can include the quality of the wiring to your home or your equipment inside the home. Read ACCAN’s tip sheet for more information on this.

If you cannot use the internet in the way you need to due to poor speeds or connection problems, you should:

  1. Do an online speed test to compare your home internet speed to your retail service provider’s (RSP) advertised speeds. Keep records of the speeds you get and how many drop outs occur if your service is unreliable.

  2. Contact your RSP and clearly state that you want to make a complaint about slow speeds or an unreliable service.

Wondering how to make Facebook work with your screenreader, or whether LinkedIn is accessible? These tip sheets from Media Access Australia, available in print or audio formats, are full of tips and tricks for getting around the accessibility challenges of popular social media platforms. See below to access easy-to-understand information about how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype and YouTube, or to learn more about blogging.

Download: docAbout the National Relay Service59 KB

Download: pdfAbout the National Relay Service422.3 KB

People who are Deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired are unable to access telecommunications without specialised equipment and services. Since 1995, the Australian Government has overseen a National Relay Service (NRS) which enables people with these disabilities to conduct real-time conversations with other people. The funding for the NRS is provided by a levy on eligible telecommunications carriers.

The NRS offers a number of different relay services allowing greater communication options for people who are Deaf, hearing impaired or speech impaired. These include:

NBN is not just about internet

5 things about NBNThe National Broadband Network (NBN) is modernising the telecommunications network to homes and businesses.

Many services and equipment use the telecommunications network, including telephone and voice services, internet, tele-typewriters, fax machines, alarms (medical, security, and fire alarms), EFTPOS machines and emergency elevator phones.

What are captions?

Captions provide the dialogue and important background sounds in onscreen text for television viewers who are Deaf, hard of hearing or people watching television in noisy places, like the gym. Captions are displayed in text, usually at the bottom of the screen.

When are captions supposed to be provided on television?

All Australian free-to-air broadcasters must provide closed captions on programs shown between 6:00am and midnight on their primary channel (for example: Nine, Seven, Ten, ABC1 and SBS1). News and current affairs programs must have captions at all times.

If you have a problem with your phone or internet provider, you can complain. It is easy to complain. This tip sheet tells you how.

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ACCAN, CHOICE, and the Consumer Action Law Centre have joined forces to give you 4 quick tips on checking your phone bill to save money.

Young woman upset at receiving high billDownload: docReceived an unexpectedly high bill56.5 KB

Download: pdfReceived an unexpectedly high bill319.78 KB

Many phone providers have a limit on how many calls you can make, texts you can send and data you can use each month. If you go over your limit you could be charged extra fees. These fees can be very expensive and it is best to avoid going over your limit if you can. See our tip sheet on how to avoid smartphone bill shock for more information.

Download: docEnding or changing a contract56 KB

Download: pdfEnding or changing a contract309.44 KB

You may want to end your contract early if you are moving house, or if you cannot use your phone or internet in the way you would reasonably expect to. Remember that your provider can charge you penalty or cancellation fees if you want to end your contract early.

Not satisfied with your service? You have the right to receive a service that works as advertised.

Here is what you can do:

Black and white Wi-Fi sticker in window

Download: docSecuring your home or office Wi-Fi246 KB

Download: pdfSecuring your home or office Wi-Fi385.89 KB

Wi-Fi is a cheap and easy way to connect your devices to each other and to the internet without running cables throughout your home or office. However, because Wi-Fi is sent through the air, it is important to take steps to secure your network and devices.

cartoon image of telephone, mobile phone and phone directory

Download: docHow to avoid directory assistance call charges64.5 KB

Download: pdfHow to avoid directory assistance call charges443.87 KB

Did you know that calls to Directory Assistance 1223 and other directory phone numbers may not be free of charge from your mobile or landline phone? Sometimes these calls are charged outside of your included plan value, so you may receive extra charges on your bill from calling these numbers.

Whenever possible, you should avoid calling directory assistance numbers and instead use one of the alternatives listed below.

Download: docxAvoiding big charges for 13 number calls48.74 KB

Download: pdfAvoiding big charges for 13 number calls334.99 KB

Some long expiry pre-paid and pay as you go mobile plans charge for 13 number calls by the minute. These plans may not be good value if you often call 13 numbers and you may find your credit gets used up quickly.

Here are some plans that charge for 13 number calls by duration (note: there may be other plans on the market that charge for these calls as well):

Download: docMy mobile handset isnt working56.5 KB

Download: pdfMy mobile handset isnt working315.4 KB

If your mobile phone handset is not working, you could be entitled to a replacement, repair or refund depending on the situation. Your consumer rights are set out under the Australian Consumer Law.

Mobile phones are commonly purchased under 24-month contracts. It is reasonable to expect that a phone supplied on a 24-month contract should remain free of defects for that period.

Picture showing cover of How to choose a cloud provider tipsheetDownload: pdfHow to choose a Cloud Computing Provider534.42 KB
Download: docxHow to choose a Cloud Computing Provider58.83 KB

Cloud services are becoming increasingly popular as consumers begin to look for new ways to store and save their data. If you are a small business and looking for suggestions on how to choose one of many cloud service providers, take a look at ACCAN's tip sheet.

What is "The Cloud"?

Cloud computing is best described as storing and accessing data, programs and services over the internet rather than from your computer hard drive or server located on your business premises.

A recent survey of 260 small businesses found that an average of 32% of small businesses have experienced significant customer service problems such as difficulty in contacting their provider, being placed on hold, getting a problem resolved, having to call multiple times, being passed between departments, billing issues and resolution response times. If this sounds like your small business then you are losing valuable time which could be spent making sales - so read this Tip Sheet for guidance on reducing this problem.

Not all providers are equal when it comes to customer service, but all of them are required to do a few things:

  • Deal with your enquiries quickly and effectively

  • Try to resolve any problem the first time you contact them

  • Protect your personal information


You have a right to complain to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) if your provide Is hard to get in contact with, for example if your call isn't answered or does not respond to emails within a reasonable period of time.

Consider these questions when choosing an internet plan from an RSP:

What are the costs of the plan?

When looking for an internet plan you should shop around for a deal that suits your needs. Compare plans and prices using comparator websites like finder.com.au and WhistleOut.

Do not be distracted by headline prices. Often special offers will not last for the life of the contract. Read the critical information summary to find out how much you will pay each month when any special offers expire, and if there are other upfront or equipment costs. It is also useful to check how much you will pay over the whole contract.

What download speed do I need?

If you are choosing a new RSP over the NBN, you will have a choice of download speed. Download speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Every provider should advise you what the average speed will be during peak hours. They may also advise what the maximum speed is, although you may never experience this. Talk to your provider about which speed tier will suit your needs and uses.

Download: docxUnderstanding your broadband options.docx118.5 KB

Download: pdfUnderstanding your broadband options.pdf383.84 KB

With so many options on the market it can be confusing and challenging to choose a broadband service that suits your business. The information below aims to help you understand the available broadband options for small businesses so you can make the best choice for the operational needs of your business.

What products are available?

The product you choose should be the one that best matches your usage requirements. If your business operates in a single location and only needs the internet for email and a small amount of web browsing, then a standard consumer grade retail plan will be fine. However, if your needs are more complex or you have a high demand for reliable high speed services then it may be worth engaging someone to do a full assessment of your telecommunications needs on a commercial basis.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technologies are the most commonly available broadband connection type in Australia today. DSL enables high speed data transmission over copper wire telephone lines. DSL comes in a range of types according to upload and download data rates, often referred to as the 'speed.' The actual performance will also depend on how long the copper wires are between your premises and the service provider's equipment as well as the quality of those wires.

Some phone numbers and text services cost you more than you expect. Always check what numbers are included, and which ones you pay extra for.

  • Premium SMS (e.g. a ringtone or weekly horoscope)

  • Expensive numbers (e.g. directory services from your mobile or 1900 lines)

  • Purchases from inside Apps

  • Credit Transfers between friends

  • Data usage (using the internet)

  • "Free" Apps that have lots of advertising

More information on these services can be found on the LawStuff website.

 

It's best to match your mobile phone cost with what you can afford and how much you need to use it.

If you're tossing up between a pre-paid or a post-paid plan, head to this site to see the pros and cons of each

Generally, pre-paid deals allow you to have more control over how much you spend because once your credit runs out, you can't make outgoing calls or send texts on your phone unless you pay more money. On the other hand, if you sign a post-paid contract you will have to pay excess charges once you go over your data usage and call or text limit.

If you want to compare plans, the website Whistleout or Finder are a good place to start.

Download: docMobile and broadband everyday money saving tips218.5 KB

Download: pdfMobile and broadband everyday money saving tips269.73 KB

ACCAN has put together a number of everyday money saving tips for mobile and broadband services.

1. Be aware that when service providers advertise short term savings, these may not result in long term savings.

2. Watch that your download limits on your phone and internet are not exceeded. You can do this by using your telco's app or online account.

3. Start on a low plan and monitor your usage. If you need to you can usually increase your plan without penalty but you can't always decrease it within your contract time.

The three biggest telcos have spend and usage tools to help you know how much of the different types of services you are using.

 

Hand writing 'consumer protection' on clear panel with marker

This tip sheet can help you complain about communciations privacy issues such as spam emails, telemarketing and privacy breaches. It can also help you to make complaints about privacy issues with social media websites like Facebook and services that track your location, such as Google Maps.

What is a privacy complaint?

Australian consumers have the right to make complaints about privacy issues. Privacy issues in the communications sector are becoming more common as we share more information online than ever before. These add to existing privacy issues relating to communications such as spam (unwanted emails from companies and organisations), telemarketing calls and the misuse of silent telephone numbers and personal information.

Some providers have special deals available for people in special circumstances. Here are the ones we've heard of.

Telstra

InContact

InContact is a free limited service that offers incoming calls but restricts outgoing calls. Telstra customer service, service difficulties and fault numbers can be called.

PhoneAway Card

Telstra's prepaid calling card allows guests to make calls on a pre-paid basis, with the flexibility of being able to use the card from almost anywhere.

Sponsored Access Program

This aims to provide a phone service for people who seek shelter within emergency accommodation (one service only per property).

Telstra Bill Assistance Program

The program is designed to assist specific householders in maintaining access to a telephone service when difficulties arise.

CentrePay

CentrePay is a direct deduction facility offered by Centrelink to customers, who may choose to pay some household bills and other essential services.

Home Phone Budget

Home Phone Budget offers has a line rental plan that provides a relatively lower line rental price than standard services with higher call prices. It is designed for Telstra residential customers with just one fixed line service who make very few calls.

 

 

Doctor helping older man access the internet on tabletDo you sometimes act as a ‘proxy internet user’ – where you use online services and applications on behalf of someone else who otherwise makes limited use of the internet? Proxy internet assistance often takes place within families – notably elderly parents being helped by their adult children. Other proxy users include people acting in a professional capacity – for example carers, social workers and other public-facing professionals who assist clients with specific online tasks.

Free calls to 1800 numbers - A great ACCAN achievement

Download: docHow to avoid 1800 number call charges on mobiles53 KB

Download: pdfHow to avoid 1800 number call charges on mobiles336.76 KB

Most Australian mobile providers (but not all) now offer free calls to 1800 numbers. Below is a list of providers that offer these calls for free.

Woman looking concerned about her bills

  1. Be aware that when service providers advertise short term savings, these may not result in long term savings.

  2. Watch that your download limits on your phone and internet are not exceeded. You can do this by using your telco's app or online account.

  3. Start on a low plan and monitor your usage. If you need to you can usually increase your plan without penalty but you can't always decrease it within your contract time.

  4. It is not always necessary to change plan if you keep exceeding your limits, you may simply need to change your calling habits. For example make calls during off-peak times or free hours.

  5. Before signing up for a bundle deal (mobile, Internet and fixed line) consider your average usage and whether this package meets your everyday needs.

Download: docxWhich broadband product is right for my business.docx61.82 KB

Download: pdfWhich broadband product is right for my business.pdf336.92 KB

There are a range of different options available to small businesses when it comes to broadband. This tip sheet outlines the questions a small business owner should ask when choosing a broadband product.

When trying to decide which broadband product is right for your business, consider:

  • Which types of broadband services are available? For information on the services that may be available to you, access our brochure: Understanding your options for broadband connection.

  • What type of service would best suit the needs of the business in terms of speed, mobility and monthly data allowance? Refer to your broadband bills from the last 6-12 months to calculate your typical usage.

  • Do you need both phone and broadband services? If so, consider the option of bundling (getting all the services from the same provider). You might also want to include mobile services in this bundle. This could save you money but make sure that all the services meet your needs otherwise you could end up spending more than you need to.

  • Do you need to upload a lot of data? For example if you are operating a video streaming service or other content rich business.

Which is the right telco deal for you?

Finding the right telco deal depends on what your needs are.

In this tip sheet we look at some good value products on the market that may be suitable for voice only and light internet users.

Remember it is a good idea to review your telecommunication services every year or two - if you have been on the same plan for a while, there may be new and better deals available.

In a project funded by ACCAN, researchers at The University of Sydney analysed 61 top-rated mental health apps available to Australian consumers.

Mental health apps commonly collected consumer data, requested that consumers make in-app purchases, and made health claims. Although this is normal in the app world, we thought, “How would this stand up in the real world?”

[Jane looking at the hand massage signs. Thinks, “hmmm…just what I need”]

Background

Eye peering through a keyhole in cloud

In March 2018 it was revealed that the data firm, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorised access to almost 87 million (primarily United States) Facebook users’ data. Also implicated was Cambridge Analytica’s British counterpart, Strategic Communication Laboratories.

Facebook users’ data was harvested through the two data firms through a personality-quiz app created by Cambridge psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, named “This Is Your Digital Life”. Facebook confirmed that only 270,000 Facebook users downloaded Kogan’s app, but Facebook has not yet refuted claims that up to 87 million users’ data had been accessed. During this time, when Facebook users downloaded apps connected to their Facebook accounts, they also exposed data from many of their friends to the app developer, hence, the large estimated number of users affected.

Family using technology

Throughout our lives, we accumulate a variety of assets. In the past, these have traditionally included things such as houses, cars, finances and other tangible possessions. These assets are considered when drawing up a will in the event of our passing.