How to avoid a huge Internet bill

Tips & Hints

23 June 2002

Despite what we hear of evil hackers stealing your credit card and bank details, huge charges are the greatest risk the Internet poses to your wallet.

Excess usage charges are no joke, a humble dial up account can easily tick well into the hundreds of dollars and broadband users can find themselves will bills for thousands. Those lucky enough to have broadband are the most at risk, mainly through file sharing programs. But users on slower dial up accounts have their own risks to watch for.

Timed connections

If you're on an account that charges by the time spent online you must make sure you’re only connected while you actually use it. We’ve seen people leave their connections running for weeks and getting billed accordingly. Make sure you disconnect when you’re finished and that your modem or connection is set to hang-up automatically.

Dialling in

Dialup account users should also be careful of where they’re dialling. Make sure the dialup is set to the closest location your Internet provider has. If you’re paying STD, or even international, rates for your surfing time then your phone bill will dwarf your Internet charges.

File sharing programs

For broadband users these are the biggest risk to your financial health. A broadband connection with Morpheus or Kazaa running as a server means a big bill. We recommend you do not run these programs on your computer. Even if you don’t enable them as a server the other programs bundled with most "free" software will increase your Internet traffic and possibly make your system less stable.


It’s not just file sharing programs that will transmit data from your computer, many programs come with spyware. Programs such as Ad-Aware and Zone Alarm can keep you manage these programs. While it is a bigger problem for broadband users, dial in users can affected by these things as well.


Viruses and trojan horses can send your usage soaring. One common villain is the Nimda virus. Get an anti-virus program and keep it up to date.

Streaming Media

This should be one of the strengths of broadband Internet, but unfortunately the pricing plans of Australian providers mean it can be a quick way to empty your wallet. Every video and music clip adds to your bill and a few hours of listening to an on-line radio station can put a big dent in your free monthly allowance. If you listen or watch a lot of streaming media, keep an eye on your usage details.

1-900 Dialling programs

Of course there is the old favourite of the dialler programs. These are a programs that automatically connect your computer to a premium rate phone number. The worst scams hijack your Internet connection, meaning you're paying upwards of $2 a minute while connected. If you have a modem connected to your computer then you can be caught by this scam, even if you normally use a broadband Internet connection.

Compromised passwords

Be careful with your password. Don’t have an obvious one and don’t give it away to people. We know people who’ve been lumbered with a huge bill because their kids have given the password to someone else. Your password is worth a lot of money should be treated like a PIN.

While the risks of being ripped off on the net are real, they shouldn’t be overstated. Take care with passwords, what you download and the programs you run on your machine. With a bit of care you can minimise the risk of being burnt.

PC Rescue Pty Ltd
Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2011