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See if Facebook is using your camera

by Terri Dickerson
| August 13, 2020 1:00 AM

Facebook is sending messages to customers letting them know that the company has the right to access their phone cameras, apparently in many instances without their knowledge.

Late last fall a website designer noticed the Facebook App was showing the camera view alongside the main Facebook feed. Facebook admitted that it had inadvertently introduced a bug that allowed it to capture any imagery, video or audio unbeknownst to the app user. The bug allows the app to partially navigate to the camera screen when a photo is tapped.

But Facebook isn’t the only app that can access your smartphone. Turns out if we give an app permission to access a smartphone or tablet camera, the app retains the permission whenever it is open. Which means that whenever the Facebook app is open, it has permission to access your cameras and your microphones. It can also record videos, photos and audio.

If you would like to avoid giving your camera permission to all apps except your main camera app, there is a way to do it. If you’re on an Android smartphone, go to Settings, then Apps. In the upper right-hand corner of your screen, tap the three dots, then tap App Permissions. From here you should be able to easily switch individual permissions off (or on) for each category.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, go to Settings, then scroll down to Privacy, tap Privacy. On that screen you will see a list of items like Contacts, Reminders, Photos, etc. These are your Permissions. Find the Camera and tap it, and you’ll see a list of apps that currently have permission to access your camera. If you don’t want them to have permission you can turn off that feature.

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CAR LEASE CONUNDRUM: If you’re leasing a car that you no longer need or are able to afford, can you get out of the lease? A couple of websites, Swapalease and Leasetrader, might be worth checking out.

The process for using both is about the same. You tell them the make and model of your vehicle and the terms of your lease. They tell you if your vehicle is eligible for their site. If it is, you choose a pricing plan to list your car.

If people are interested in taking over your lease, they will see your listing and contact you if they like your vehicle and terms.

If you find a match, the good news is you can get out of the lease with a minimum cost compared to other options.

Before you list anything on these websites, though, check your contract to ensure that your leasing company allows transfers of this type.

The process on Swapalease is fairly straightforward. You need to establish an account and check your eligibility by providing information about your vehicle like year, make, model and lease company.

If your vehicle is eligible for transfer, you can create a listing that includes your vehicle’s features, remaining miles and months left on the lease, monthly payment, photographs and a description of your vehicle. There are fees involved so make sure you read the agreement before signing up.

Leasetrader works similarly but you’ll first need to sign in using your Facebook or Google account. The alternative is to use your name, email address, phone number and zip code. After establishing an account, complete the profile on your vehicle. You’ll need to provide not only basic information about the vehicle but also answer some questions about the lease and the leasing Company. Leasetrader also has fees associated with it.

As a final thought, these options might not work for everyone but might be better than turning the lease back into the leasing company. Also, please note that these sites didn’t rank well for customer service so they are tailored more to the independent user.

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WATCH FOR HOLD ON CHARGES: A Coeur d’Alene reader reported that she purchased $40 worth of gas at a local gas station/convenience market, and they placed an additional $100 hold as well as the $40 fuel purchase on her debit card. When our reader went to buy groceries the next day, her debit card was declined. Not understanding why, she discovered the $100 hold.

She went back to ask the manager about the hold. She said the manager apologized and told the woman that the held funds would go back into her account in a few days. There was no posted sign to indicate this new policy.

I had a similar experience at a car wash. A $10 hold was placed on my credit card when the car wash cost $3. I thought it was a mistake and tried unsuccessfully to contact the owner. However, a couple of days later I noticed that the correct charge of $3 was on my card and that the $10 charge had gone away.

Merchants should post these types of policy changes so consumers aren’t caught unaware.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.