iPad data plans vulnerable to fraud: Vodafone

Australian telcos warned that data download plans can be easily rorted

Australian telcos have been warned that data download plans being offered with new iPads can be easily rorted, leaving them exposed to fraud.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia, IDC Australia telecommunications market analyst Mark Novosel said while carriers' terms and conditions stated that the microSIM issued with an iPad must be used solely in that device, there was nothing stopping users from placing the SIM into a modem and using it as a broadband connection for their laptop or another device.

"It is in danger [of being rorted] and to my knowledge there is nothing to prevent users from doing that at this stage, apart from the fact that the microSIM has to be put into a normal SIM-sized slot in a modem — which isn't impossible at all," Novosel said.

"Unless the carriers clamp down on it and prevent users from doing that, it could be rorted."

A Vodafone Australia spokesperson confirmed that while such activity was against the company's terms and conditions, some users were none-the-less abusing its unlimited iPad data plan.

"Vodafone is able to profile microSIM usage against the corresponding IMEIs and has used this technique to identify a small number of customers who have breached the terms and conditions of the [data plan] for the Apple iPad," the spokesperson said.

"The vast majority of customers that have purchased [the unlimited data plan] for the Apple iPad are using the microSIM in its intended Apple iPad, and only a small number of customers have been identified as allegedly using the microSIM in a non-approved device."

A Telstra spokesperson did not confirm whether its iPad data plans had been abused, but did acknowledge that customers were able abuse them.

"Initially customers with a Telstra pre-paid microSIM may be able to access their data account via another device," the spokesperson said. "However, this will be temporary and in these instances data rates may revert back to standard Telstra pre-paid wireless broadband rates. We've included advice on this in our pricing guide and Terms and Conditions."

An Optus spokesperson would not comment on the extent to which its iPad data plans had been abused, only stating that such activity would breach its terms of use and the Optus Acceptable Usage Policy.

"When the SIM is sold to customers it is provisioned to work in an iPad, if a customer tampers with this they are not complying with acceptable terms of use," the spokesperson said.

For its part, Vodafone was seeking to stamp out the practice of customers abusing its iPad data plan through contacting customers that it believed may be using iPad microSIMs in non iPad devices.

"Vodafone will be contacting customers that have allegedly breached the terms and conditions of the [unlimited data plan] for the Apple iPad, with a simple request that they revert to using the microSIM exclusively in their Apple iPad," the spokesperson said.

The iPad will be available in New Zealand in July.

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