Mobile phone companies are introducing a cap of £100 on stolen call costs

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If your phone is stolen, in the future you’ll only be liable for up to £100 worth of calls made by the criminals. But that £100 cap only applies if you report your phone as stolen within 24 hours of it happening. It’s a voluntary agreement and, while it’s better than the current system, it won’t protect everyone.

1. This is a voluntary agreement. The government pushed the mobile phone providers to offer this cap, but it’s not something that’s set out in law. The agreement applies to the five major mobile phone networks: EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

2. You won’t have to pay for more than £100 of calls made by someone else if your phone has been stolen. However, this £100 cap will only apply if you report that your phone has been lost or stolen within 24 hours of you noticing the phone has gone missing. You must report it to the network provider (normally by phone).

The cap won’t protect you if you don’t report your phone as lost or stolen within 24 hours. That might sound like an easy thing to do, but if you’re on holiday somewhere where it’s difficult to report it to the police or phone company, or if you don’t realise your phone has been stolen for some time, you won’t be covered.

SAVVY TIP: I think the mobile phone cap should be the same as that operated by the banks and credit card companies. The rules that banks and credit card providers operate under say that you’re liable for a maximum of £50 until you report your credit or debit card lost or stolen. In some cases they don’t even impose this but will refund all money taken by someone who’s stolen your card.

3. The cap will be introduced between now and September 2015. Three has already introduced this cap (in January 2015). The other mobile phone companies will introduce the cap between now and September.

  • EE will introduce in the coming weeks
  • O2 will introduce the cap by September 2015
  • Virgin will introduce the cap from 1 July 2015
  • Vodafone will introduce the cap this summer.

SAVVY TIP: Tesco Mobile has been running a similar scheme, with a £50 cap.

4. You should protect your phone. You should use a PIN (and not ‘1234’) and register it with immobilise.com. You should also activate ‘find my phone’ or similar tracking devices, on your phone.

6. Mobile phone insurance may not cover cost calls until you report it stolen. Understand the limitations of insurance. Mobile phone insurance may not give you ‘peace of mind’. It will pay out in certain, specific circumstances. Some policies don’t cover the cost of calls made by other people if it’s been stolen, while others cover call costs up to a limit, which could be several hundred pounds or up to £10,000.

7. Challenge your bill, if it’s high. If you’ve been presented with a massive bill for calls you didn’t make, or you don’t manage to report your phone as being stolen within 24 hours, get in touch with your mobile phone company. Although they’ve tended to be quite tough with people who’ve had their phone stolen and who’ve not reported it as soon as possible (even if there’s been good reason), there have been cases where they’ve waived part of the bill as a ‘goodwill’ gesture.

8. Complain to an ombudsman scheme. There are two free ombudsman schemes and mobile phone companies will have signed up to one or other of them. Most mobile phone providers belong to CISAS while some belong to Ombudsman Services: Communications. They may be able to look at your case if you’re not happy with the way your mobile phone provider has dealt with you.

Related articles:

10 scams to avoid – how to avoid telephone scams and other scams

Complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service – this is useful if you have a complaint about a mobile phone insurance policy.

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