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Cell phones have completely changed the way we communicate. These days it seems as though everyone is toting one of these devices, meaning we are all in constant contact. Of course, almost every phone on the market today does more than just handle phone calls. The average cell phone can send and receive text messages, e-mails, and other data from almost anywhere.

In the past I’ve written about some of the dangers of cell phone use, particularly while driving. However, cell phones can actually help keep people safe. For instance, many parents purchase phones for their children so their kids can get ahold of them in an emergency (and vice-versa). Unfortunately, many teens see their cell phones as a free pass to unlimited communication.

This is precisely what happened in San Jose, California. Ted Estarija added his 13-year-old son to his Verizon phone plan and conscientiously asked the phone company to limit his son’s calling and text messaging. Mr. Estarija neglected to mention anything about data services, which can be a costly add-on to any plan. The young boy downloaded some 1.4 gigabytes worth of data in just one month, resulting in a charge of $21,917. Verizon has agreed to waive the fee, undoubtedly a relief to Mr. Estarija.

While cell phones can be handy, it is important to know the costs and features of your phone plan. Phone companies, banks, and other service providers often charge fees for services consumers assume are included free of charge. As with any product or service, you should protect yourself by reading the fine print and becoming familiar with any potential pitfalls.

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