We’re calling on mobile providers to play fair with their customers one year after they promised to protect people facing massive bills if their phone is lost or stolen. You should not have to foot the bill for fraud.
Discovering that you’ve lost your mobile phone can be a pain. Especially if it turns out it’s been stolen.
However, phones are becoming increasingly secure with functions that make them unusable once they’ve been reported stolen. Meaning that for some criminals, getting their hands on your Sim card to make expensive phone calls is far more appealing. Until you report theft to your mobile provider, the fraudsters can rack up huge bills in your name by calling the premium rate numbers they’ve set up.
Does the cap fit?
That’s why in December 2013 the Government announced that the major mobile providers had agreed to introduce a liability limit to protect customers from excessive costs if their phone was used fraudulently when it was lost or stolen.
However, it’s now more than a year later and we’re still waiting for Vodafone, O2, EE and Virgin Media Mobile to implement a limit. While Three has introduced a cap, customers will still be faced with a bill for the first £100 if the loss or theft is reported within 24 hours.
We found that a third of mobile users would find it difficult to cope with an unexpected expense of £100, and six in 10 think they shouldn’t have to pay any of the costs incurred from fraudulent use when their phone’s lost or stolen.
Time to report lost or stolen phones
While you might assume that people would be able to report the loss or theft quickly, there are a number of reasons why you might need longer. Have you ever realised you’ve left your phone somewhere else, say at work and gone home without it? We found nearly a quarter of people said they’d accidentally left their phone somewhere for a whole day or overnight in the last two years.
That means the amount of time you have to report your phone lost or stolen before you are liable for all the costs is crucial. We think you should have 48 hours to do this. Which? Convo commenter Mike told us about the big bill he’d been hit with:
‘My own phone was stolen abroad earlier this year and, despite being locked, the Sim was used to rack up over £2,000 in a few hours before I could report it stolen.’
What are you liable for?
We don’t think you should have to foot the bill if criminals run up expensive charges on your phone. Mobile firms agreed to introduce a limit on excessive costs over a year ago, so why haven’t they implemented safeguards that really protect their customers?
Do you think mobile users should have to pay for fraudulent activity on their mobile phone if it’s lost or stolen? If so, how much should they be liable for? And how much time should they have to report a lost or stolen phone to their provider?