FaceApp might not be just fun and games

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Wireless Lab’s FaceApp is a smartphone app that applies filters to selfies, including the viral version that shows the progression of age. I’ve been hearing from people who’ve been amused with their aged photos and think it’s all just good fun.

But cybersecurity experts warn we may be giving up more personal data than we realize with this Russian-made app. The terms and conditions say your photos could be used in unintended ways. Any app gathering data that can be used for facial recognition should give us cause for concern.

FaceApp’s privacy policy says its affiliates and service providers may transfer the information they collect about you across international borders. Other countries’ laws regarding data protection and privacy differ from those in the United States. When you download FaceAoo, you also automatically agree to mandatory arbitration in the case of a dispute, which means you cede your right to pursue a case in court. Good luck getting any restitution if you object to the way your picture is used.

The policy doesn’t explain how Wireless Labs safeguards user content on its servers.

Maybe FaceApp is in good fun, but when you grant any company the license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, distribute and publish your image or likeness in any way it sees fit, you should contemplate what that could cost you in terms of privacy.

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SAVE ON INTERNATIONAL CALLS: If you travel internationally, it’s a good idea to have an international calling plan so you don’t end up feeling ripped off when you get your phone bill.

T-Mobile and Sprint appear to be good carriers for reasonable international calling plans. Both allow you to use your phone outside the United States for 20 cents per minute. You pay nothing for texting and unlimited data.

Google’s Project Fi lets you use your cellphone around the world at the same cost as at home If you have high-speed data in the United States, you can get high-speed data overseas, too. The same rates apply for calling and texting. One exception: Calling country-to-country and not back to the U.S., costs 20 cents a minute.

AT&T and Verizon charge massive amounts for international calls. If you know you’re going to be traveling abroad and you use one of these carriers, make sure you sign up for an international plan before you take that trip. Otherwise you’ll be charged huge fees while you’re out of the country.

Another option: Buy a local SIM card for cell service when you get to your destination. These cost $15 to $20, which is a lot cheaper than using your phone without an international calling plan.

Apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Line make calls for free. With Line, you can make up to five free five-minute calls a day to the United States after you watch a short video ad. It’s possible to call someone who doesn’t have the Line app on their phone.

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IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE: Your credit score is an important factor lenders use when you borrow money. Here are a few under-the-radar ways to beef up your score.

First, find out the closing date, which is different than the due date on your statement. By knowing this you can better manage your credit utilization ratio. This is the amount of credit you have compared with the amount of credit you have available.

It’s best to keep this ratio at less than 30 percent on all cards, but if you want to boost your credit score quicker, then keep it under 10%. To help achieve this, pay your bill just before the closing date. That way, the most recent payment will help calculate your utilization rate.

Second, pay down debt strategically. If one of your credit cards has a 50 percent utilization rate — meaning you’ve used half the available credit — and another card has a 10 percent utilization rate, it’s best to pay down the card with the higher utilization rate. Another option is to transfer some of the balance to the other card so you keep both rates under 30 percent.

Finally, if you’ve had a rough couple of months financially, think about paying twice a month in order to lower the utilization rate on your cards quicker. You can do this by making a payment two weeks before the closing date, then make another payment just before the closing date.

Credit cards should not be used as a long-term loan unless you have a card with a zero percent introductory APR on purchases. These offers are usually for a limited time, so pay attention to when the zero percent ends. You’ll want to have the card paid off by then to avoid the interest charges.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please email terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call 208-274-4458. Please include your name and a phone number or email.

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