Better Business Bureau warns vacationers: Beware of cell phone charges while abroad



(Message from Better Business Bureau) 



CHICAGO, ILWith today’s technology, cell phone users can surf the web, receive emails and watch movies on their smart phones. When traveling abroad, many users fail to recognize their data plan is constantly in use, even when they think their phone isn’t.


In the past twelve months, the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois received more than 482 complaints against the cell phone industry, many of which were from customers who were unaware their data was still in use as they traveled outside their coverage area.


“Vacationers often rack up more expenses than initially planned when traveling,” said Steve J. Bernas, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “It’s important to make sure you aren’t paying extra for a cell phone not being used

According to the Federal Communications Commission, “roaming” is the term that describes a wireless phone’s ability to make and receive calls outside the designated coverage area under your service plan. Before traveling abroad or out of your coverage area, it’s important for consumers to be proactive and contact their provider for specific details regarding their individual data plan.
BBB advises consumers to do the following with their cell phone and cell phone provider in preparation for a trip abroad: 



  • Turn off your phone. If you don’t need your phone and don’t plan to use it while traveling abroad, turn it off. Another option is to rent or buy an international cell phone. Many rental plans offer services that work in several countries and may provide free incoming calls.
  • Contact your cell phone provider. Cell phone users generally know not to make calls or send text messages while out of their coverage area or abroad. For the occasional traveler who doesn’t frequently talk on the phone, it may be worth looking into an international add-on plan. Your cell phone carrier can provide specific tips that cater to the roaming needs of your individual cell phone and data plan.
  • Invest in a prepaid SIM card. For frequent, chatty travelers or long-term travelers, investing in a prepaid SIM card may be the best option. With access to a local phone number, you’ll be able to make phone calls at the country’s local rate.
  • Check with your BBB. Travelers should always check with your BBB before choosing an international service provider at


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