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Instagram and Facebook down for tens of thousands of users | Science & Tech News

Instagram, Facebook and Threads are experiencing widespread problems, locking users out of their accounts and failing to load properly. 

Outages reported on Down Detector shot up just before 3pm, with more than 300,000 problems logged.

More than 25,000 Instagram outages were also reported via the website, which collates status reports from several sources, including users.

Problems on Facebook appear to leave users unable to login, with users logged out and unable to reset their password or access their accounts.

On Instagram, there are problems loading users’ timelines, stories and comments.

Sky News understands some of Meta’s internal systems have also been affected by the outage.

Sky News has contacted Meta, the parent company for both platforms, for comment.

Andy Stone, communications director at Meta, posted on X, formerly Twitter: “We’re aware people are having trouble accessing our services. We are working on this now.”

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive breaking news alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News app. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.

Phone scam warning: EE network issues urgent message to users today | Science & Tech News

Millions of mobile phone users are being warned of potential text scams in the lead-up to Christmas, peaking today on what is being dubbed “Super Saturday”.

The BT-owned EE network has said cyber criminals could try to take advantage of the busy last-minute shopping period to issue delivery-style scams, suggesting parcels are waiting to be dropped off or their delivery has been missed.

The techniques could trick recipients into clicking links through which they may unwittingly install malware (malicious software), or be taken to a phishing page aimed at harvesting personal and financial data.

EE said it managed to block around three million SMS scams that were heading to customers’ phones on this day last year.

The company anticipates it will stop up to five million such scams this month. It also said it had blocked more than 45 million scam texts so far in 2023.

EE said in a statement: “The most common SMS scams in December are delivery-related, as shoppers rush to organise last-minute parcels in time for the holiday period.

“These include missed delivery or track delivery text scams, which prompt customers to click on links that give criminals the opening they need to steal consumers’ data or money.”

Phone scam. Pic: Alamy
Pic: Alamy

The firm is urging consumers to remain scam-aware, especially over the next couple of weeks, when the stress of holiday preparations could “cloud judgement and result in people dropping their guard”.

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Jonny Bunt, EE’s director of regulatory affairs for the consumer division of BT Group, said: “Super Saturday is set to be the busiest day of the year for high-street retailers.

“With deliveries piling up on the doorstep, scammers will be looking for ways to take advantage of the festive frenzy.

“As one of the UK’s first lines of defence against SMS scam texts, we have clear sight of the threat level here at BT and EE and are already seeing a concerning spike in delivery scams in particular.”

It has issued some tips on how to stay scam safe:

• Never click on a link in a text from an unknown source
• Trust your instincts, and if something looks suspicious, there’s probably a catch
• Keep your device software up to date
• Never give out bank details, passwords or security codes on a website you’ve linked to
• If your bank phones you, consider calling them back on a published number or using the 159 service
• If you get an expected call from someone, if in doubt put the phone down and call back on a number you trust
• If you receive a suspicious text, forward the phone number and incident to 7726, free of charge, for your mobile provider to investigate
• Once reported, block the number and notify others of the scam, so they can avoid falling victim.

Millions of mobile phone and internet users could be paying 17.3% more on their bills this time next week | UK News

Millions of mobile phone and internet users are facing a price increase of 17.3% on their bills in just a week’s time.

Every April, many broadband and mobile firms raise their prices in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus an additional 3-3.9%.

As these price rises are often applied mid-contract, people either have to accept these new prices or pay costly exit fees to leave their contract early.

But with some 11 million people out of contract, if they switch before the rise next week they would be exempt from the increase.

It comes as industry regulator Ofcom launched a review to determine if consumers have enough clarity on mid-contract cost increases.

Uswitch has also been campaigning to allow all consumers to leave contracts penalty-free in the face of price rises as most providers don’t allow this. The price comparison site believes providers who impose inflationary increases should allow customers to leave their contract early without penalty, or offer contracts where the price remains fixed for the duration.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch, said: “There is still time to avoid the impact of April’s price rises. Broadband and mobile customers should check now to see if they can switch to avoid paying more than they need to.

“Millions of consumers are currently out of contract, and therefore can still shield themselves from the brunt of these inflation-busting increases.

“Not only could you switch to a faster and more reliable product, but also pay less per month – although future price rises may still apply from 2024 in many cases.”

How to beat the broadband hikes from the experts at USwitch

1. If you are out of contract or coming to the end of your contract: Some providers will allow you to switch to a new deal this month to avoid mid-contract increases until 2024

2. If you are mid-contract: Check if you are eligible to switch and if there are any charges associated with switching. Even if there is a charge to switch, this may still offer you a saving in the longer term

3. If you can’t switch, sign up: Companies like Uswitch provide up-to-date consumer information on the mobile and broadband market. Sign up for the latest deals so you’re fully clued up on the market when you can switch in future

4. Check if you’re eligible for social tariffs: If you receive state benefits you may be eligible to sign up for social tariffs, designed to ensure everyone has access to modern-day utilities such as broadband. Major providers such as EE, Virgin and Vodafone offer connectivity from £12.00 with no set-up fees – and no mid-contract price increases

Who has the highest early exit fee?

Some internet companies have confirmed they will be doing more to help vulnerable and low-income households. For example, Vodaphone is automatically exempting customers that it has identified as financially vulnerable from this year’s price rises.

TalkTalk has said it will automatically exempt its most financially vulnerable customers – but did not explain its criteria for assessing this or how it would be publicised.

Providers know that for financially vulnerable customers, mid-contract price rises are potentially devastating – which is why their social tariffs offer fixed prices that are exempt from annual rises.

Based on the average amounts paid by low-income customers in Which?’s latest broadband survey, the consumer champion calculated how much a low-income BT, EE, Plusnet, TalkTalk or Vodafone customer (those earning £21,000 or less a year) could see their payments increase.

It found this group could see payments go up £77 per year. On average, they face a rise of £52 annually and look set to pay £431 a year for their broadband – at least 2% of their annual income.

BT customers had the highest monthly prices of any of the companies Which? looked at and could see an annual increase of almost £60 from next week. Low-income BT customers could also face the highest exit fees, costing £194.34 if they want to leave a year early.

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Unexpected rise in UK inflation

Switching to a social tariff

Which? research shows that the average low-income customer affected by the price rise could save as much as £220.32 – £18.36 per month – by switching to a social tariff.

These are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit, and some other benefits.

They are delivered in the same way, just at a lower price. Some providers may call them “essential” or “basic” broadband.

BT customers would make the biggest annual saving of £260.16 (£21.68 a month) by switching to a social tariff. Vodafone customers would make the lowest savings of £168 a year (£14 a month).

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “Telecoms providers must urgently cancel the 2023 price hikes for financially vulnerable customers. They should work to proactively identify these customers and ensure they’re not financially penalised, even if they don’t take up a social tariff.”