Are your children’s data charges leaving you stuck with a big payment?

Last year, BBB received 38,420 complaints against cellular telephone services and equipment, making it the number one complaint category in the BBB system. Many of the complaints filed alleged data billing issues, even though customers have numerous ways to control their data costs. Often times, one cause of high data use is children unknowingly playing games, surfing the net or downloading music without realizing the cost associated with their activities.

To help with this issue, BBB surveyed the major cellular providers — AT&T, Sprint and Verizon — to find out what parents can do to make sure their children aren’t the cause of a big bill. Turns out, cell phone carriers are more than willing to work with parents to monitor usage and, in some cases, lower their bills. We’ve outline their programs here.

Our advice to parents is to be proactive and pay attention to the data activities that your children use. Look at the different data plans and restrictions that your cellular carrier offers and consider whether or not a different data plan – or parental controls – might be the way to go.

NOTE: BBB National partners AT&T, Sprint and Verizon were included in the tips round-up, along with MetroPCS and U.S. Cellular. T-Mobile did not respond to requests for information.