ConnectABILITY

Safety Tips When Using a Cell Phone

Cell phones are a great tool for ensuring personal safety, but ownership of a cell phone also requires responsibility. Being careless with your phone can result in financial difficulties, and in some cases actually jeopardize personal safety. The following are tips to educate individuals in order to minimize the risks associated with cell phone use:

Never give out your cell phone number to strangers or companies

  • Don’t give out your number to a stranger. They might not be trustworthy.
  • Never give your cell phone number to a new company – it might be used for sales/telemarketing purposes that you did not agree to

Not every call is important

  • It is sometimes considered to be rude when answering your phone in a public place. At times, it can annoy people to the point where a confrontation occurs. Remember that before you had a cell phone people would leave you messages at home and you would return their call. It’s okay to wait until you are in an appropriate place to call someone back.

Be aware of the details when signing up for features.

  • Sales people will often not focus on all of the conditions and costs of the phone, service and features. Make sure that you read all of the details and clarify the real costs and limitations before making a decision. Otherwise, you may be shocked at the cost when you get your first bill.
  • Service providers will often give a feature free for a short period of time. Once the free period has expired you must cancel the feature or it will continue and you will be charged for it on your bill.
  • Getting into a cell phone contract is a legally binding contract. Once you have signed the contract you are responsible for all the costs and conditions included in it.

Use your phone in appropriate places

  • Unless you are lost or concerned about your safety, it is rude to chat on the phone in places where it is not typical to have a telephone such as on the bus, in a store, church, library, Doctor’s office and especially in a movie theatre.
  • If you are somewhere quiet (e.g. library), do not answer your phone.
  • It’s not safe to have personal conversations in public – you don’t know the people who might be listening.

Text messaging

  • Using this feature can cost you a lot of money if you do not have a plan!
  • Never answer texts from unknown numbers – these can be scams that add additional costs to your cell phone bill. For example, a fake lottery asking trivia questions. By answering the questions you also provide your personal information such as a telephone number. This information is then included on lists and sent to other people who are trying to cheat you. Each time a text is sent to your number you are charged.
  • Sending pictures or attachments costs money – if you do not have an unlimited plan, use this feature sparingly
  • Never send your picture to a stranger

Cell phones (and other electronic products such as ipods) are popular items to steal from people.

  • Keep your cell phone in a safe and hidden place. For example, a coat pocket with a zipper.
  • Always know who is around you and be alert for people who maybe following you.
  • If someone tries to steal your phone and threatens your safety let him take the phone. You can always get another phone.
  • If your cell phone is stolen, go to a person in authority (a police, TTC staff) and report it or go to a staff in a store and ask to use their phone to call the police. It would also be a good idea to call home or your support staff to let them know what has happened.

Smart Phones (Blackberry, iphone)

  • A smart phone has many capabilities and can access the internet. Therefore, treat a smart phone the same as a computer – nothing you do is completely private and can be monitored by your internet service provider
  • Be careful what you are viewing on your phone while you are in public – make sure what you are viewing is appropriate or you can get into trouble – as a general rule you should ask yourself “is what you are watching in public something your parents/guardians would be okay with you watching?”
  • Use a hands free device

  • If you drive, don’t talk on your phone without a hands free device. It is not only unsafe – it is also illegal.