15/03/2014 Your Money


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they try to reach out to voters. Now it is time for Your Money with


Declan Curry. Hello and welcome to Your Money,


your weekly guide to making the most of your cash, here every weekend on


BBC News television and available all week on the BBC iPlayer.


Bill shock - tens of thousands of complaints about mobile phone bills


and the contracts we sign. We've got some tips on how to get the best


deal, and how to avoid unexpected charges.


Taken for a ride - how to avoid big charges when you park on private


land. And glum in the sun - fraudsters


steal ?7 million from holiday-makers every year. We'll see how we can


avoid them. Here's something many of us have had


at least once, a mobile phone bill that's much bigger than we expected.


Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland says this weekend they had


28,000 complaints about mobile phone bills and contracts last year.


Everything from the cost of using the internet abroad on your mobile,


to unclear terms in the contract, to phones that don't work. Ernest Doku


is from the website uSwitch - he's the expert there on mobile phone


costs. The core point, and it's one you can address as well, is that


there's just too much bad behaviour by the mobile phone industry.


Certainly. I think things have got better but there's still a long way


to go. A lot of the major changes that have happened in the industry


that have benefited consumers, moves to make zero 800 numbers free, moves


to make costs lower, a lot of them have been brought in by Ofcom


regulations, rather than providers being better behaved. They did it


because they were told to. It's not always from the goodness of their


hearts. Other changes are bringing down prices, giving you more data


for your money. A lot of those have come from massive competition


between the providers. Things are getting better but there's a long


way to go. And some regulation from Europe as well. When you get the


phone, how do you work out what's best? Whether it should be a monthly


contract or pay-as-you-go? It's horses for courses in that regard. A


lot of providers move towards contracts because you get the


greater deal of minutes, texts for your money. If you are very chatty,


you want a tariff that gives you a wealth of minutes. As there was a


move towards smartphones and having data heavy contracts, that was the


way to go. Du, as a purchaser of a mobile phone, there is an obligation


on you to sit down and think, how many free minutes and my likely to


need, how many texts, how much data? Certainly. A lot of providers are


giving flexibility in that regard. Vodafone, as regards to data, you


have three months. You can go crazy, you get a test plan to see where you


might see it. If you are a heavy, medium or light user. A lot of


things enable you to get a feel for where you sit and make sure you are


getting the right plan for your usage habits. What if your mobile


phone 's and offer a service where you got three months, I think you


are on the wrong deal? Can you change it? I would err on the side


of caution initially. Opt for a lower price plan. If you are


reaching those higher caps, certainly you have the option to


shop around or bump up grades, which costs a bit more but it's definitely


worth it for the peace of mind. You mentioned some of the costs of no --


using mobile phones abroad have been capped, but not all of them and not


in all parts of the world. When you are travelling abroad it is a


massive concern to make sure you are using the right amount of minutes,


texts and data. The first thing you do, as soon as you pack your


suitcase, tell your provider that you are going a little bit ahead of


time, tell them where you were going and how long for. They often have


different plans or bundles they can have -- add-on to the tariffs, to


make sure you are spending the right amount of money. Three have a plan


which allows you to dip into your pool of domestic minutes, texts and


data and use them abroad. But you've got to tell them in advance. Of


course. And it's not just mobile phone bills that are causing money


problems, there's been a big rise in the number of people asking for help


with their council tax bills. The debt charity StepChange says it


helped over 45,000 people who'd fallen behind with their payments


last year. If you are struggling to pay your bill, the charity says you


should get in touch with your local council's payment department, tell


them you are having difficulties and that you'd like to discuss a payment


plan with them. This would interest you if you owe money to payday


lenders. The companies that charge thousands of percent in interest if


you don't pay back quickly enough. The new financial watchdog says it


will review how companies treat borrowers who are in trouble. That


will happen in April. The watchdog says its new, tough rules should


drive one lender in four out of business. The news says fraudsters


are stealing more money using our bank and credit card. It turns out


many of the thefts are very low-tech, snatching the card out of


the cash machine when we are not looking, for example. Top advice


from the banks, don't let anyone distract you with anything if you


are using a cash machine or paying an card at the till. And if someone


brings up saying they are the bank or police and they need your


security code, they are lying. Don't give it to them! We will talk more


about how you can protect yourselves from fraud when we're booking our


holidays, that'll be in a few minutes. The minimum wage is to go


up in October. Workers over 21 will get an extra 19p an hour. That


brings the Minimum Wage Commission ?6.50. A rise of 3%. 18 to


20-year-olds will get an extra 10p an hour. Their minimum will rise to


?5.13. 16 and 17-year-olds will get 7p more. That brings their minimum


to ?3.79. If you've parked on private land and you've got a


shocking bill for it afterwards, what can you do about it? Ramzan


Karmali knows. I was amazed to get a ticket. Last month, this man


received a parking ticket in the post were leaving his vehicle in a


McDonald's car park for more than an hour. He felt he'd done everything


possible to avoid this nasty surprise. Having got into the car


park, there are restrictions there. As I was definitely going to be


there more than 16 minutes, I asked the staff whether I can park more


than 60 minutes. The staff said, guess, you can park it. Had they


not, had they declined my request, I would have gone back to the car and


driven off. 1.8 million private parking tickets are issued every


year. Though the vast majority once given out on public roads.


Surprisingly, very few others appeal against these fines. Just over


13,000 others took the matter further. If you do appeal there is a


good chance you could win. Just under half of motorists successfully


got their fines rescinded. So why don't more of motorists successfully


got their fines rescinded. So why don't more others fight these fines?


The body that oversees private car parking companies insist the process


to make an appeal is fair and relatively easy car park and are not


happy with it, the right to the person who has issued it to them and


they then cancel it. They don't have the right to go to an independent


appeals others to have their case considered independently. That are


really important benefit. They have to demonstrate it is a binding


contractual agreement. But this campaign disagrees. He believes the


process is still stacked up against the motorist when dealing with


private car park operators, and that there's only one way of making sure


you get a fair hearing. I want my day in court if you are going to


pursue this. If you go to court, I want you demonstrate why, there --


that there was a contract. You are entitled to receive the money,


three, it's not a penalty and four, that what you've asked for is a


genuine pre-estimate of loss. Despite the signs, McDonald's


doesn't receive any of the money from the fines they are issued. It's


a third party that once their car parks. A McDonald's have issued an


apology and cancelled the ticket. Holidays, they are supposed to be


fun in the sun but there's less to laugh about if you are ripped off.


The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau says fraudsters stole ?7


million from holiday-makers in 2013. There were over four point --


thousand 500 cases of booking fraud, that includes accommodation that


didn't exist or fake plane tickets. The travel group ABTA says nine in


100 holiday-makers hand over money to travel companies without checking


if they are the real deal. Sean Tipton is from ABTA. That -- talk us


through some of these problems. First of all, accommodation that


doesn't exist. It's a growing problem. We noticed over the last


year or so that we are getting many more calls from members of the


public to have been defrauded in this way. The travel industry is


quite an attractive area for fraudsters. It's one of the few


places where you pay large amounts of money upfront for something you


don't get till months down the line. If accommodation doesn't exist, you


put a nice picture of a beautiful villa online, faked up some reviews


from customers who'd never stayed there. The people involved will ask


you to pay by bank transfer, which is something we recommend you do not


do. That is important. You Low if you pray by bank transfer into a


private individual's account. It doesn't necessarily mean they are


fraudulent, but if they are, it is virtually impossible to get your


money back. That should be a warning bell for you. Precisely. And there


are ways around this. There are companies that feature villa online


where you can pay by credit or debit card. That's the way to protect


yourself is something goes wrong. Fake airline tickets. You Low they


are a growing problem, particularly for flights to Africa. You are


paying upfront for something you won't be receiving until months down


the line. You want to be sent a fake ticket, you will just be fobbed


off, the ticket is on its way, we're having a problem with the airline.


It gets to a few days before your travel and no ticket appears. These


companies nearly always insist you pay by bank transfer. If you do


that, it is like passing money, in cash, to a total stranger. Is it


something you can check directly with the airline, or would you be


better of booking directly with the airline, at least you know then?


These companies, they will be travel agencies but they won't have


licenses at all. If you see one of those licences in place, you won't


need to worry about this. You can check with the airline, but it's


much better to go with a traditional agent who is licensed. We've got the


Commonwealth Games, the World Cup and religious pilgrimage take place


every year. This group travel is also vulnerable. Very vulnerable.


You are talking about sports events, which by their nature are hard to


get hold of tickets, rooms are at a premium. Prizes will be advertised


not ridiculously low, not silly, but they are a lot lower than packages


on sale. Again, pay by bank transfer. It's the same issue. Also


religious trips, we see this every year, particularly trips to Saudi


Arabia for the harsh. People can lose tens of thousands of pounds. If


you take all the precautions I do still get ripped off, is there any


redress afterwards? You should report this to the police. Action


app fraud is the website to go to. That is all from Your Money this


week. There is news about savings, mortgages, pensions and loans on the


Your Money pages of the BBC's website. And updates by following


our feed on Twitter all week long. If you have got outdoor plans for


the west of the weekend, things are looking pretty decent. I pressure is


still largely in charge, for most of us things are looking largely dry


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