Avoid bill shock if your phone is lost or stolen

If your mobile phone is lost or stolen it may be used fraudulently to call premium numbers and download chargeable content. The sooner you notify your service provider, the sooner your handset can be blocked, but you may still be liable for some charges. 

The Code of Practice on Consumer Billing March 2015 is a voluntary code, set up to help protect consumers from unexpected costs. The signatories (EE, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, Three and O2) commit to:
  • Supporting and advising customers
  • Out of Bundle Charges
  • Roaming
  • Premium Rate Services (PRS) and In-app purchases
  • Lost and Stolen devices
If these service providers are notified of a lost/stolen phone within 24 hours of it going missing, they will cap the charges.

Be prepared
  • PIN protect your handset and SIM card, as this may prevent/deter fraudulent use
  • Keep note of your service provider’s contact number, particularly if you are travelling abroad, so you can contact it immediately if your phone goes missing
  • Consider insurance – if your phone is lost or stolen you may still be liable to pay the minimum monthly fee for the duration of your contract. Some insurance policies provide cover for unauthorised use. You may need to notify your insurance company within a certain time frame if your phone goes missing
  • Keep a note of your phone’s make, model and 15-digit IMEI number (key *#06#) for reference
  • Consider downloading an app which allows you to trace your phone and wipe it remotely if it is lost or stolen
If your phone is lost or stolen
  • Contact your service provider as soon as possible to block your SIM
  • Notify your insurance provider
  • Search for/remote wipe your phone if necessary using an app
  • Check your bill
  • If you think there has been a mistake or you are unhappy with the way your lost/stolen phone has been handled, complain to your service provider and escalate as far as you can
  • If your complaint isn’t resolved in eight weeks, or you reach deadlock, Ombudsman Services: Communications may be able to help. Our service is free and simple to use. We will look at the full circumstances of the complaint alongside the agreed terms and conditions, consumer law and industry codes of practice. Our decision, which is binding in the company, will be based on a fair and reasonable approach
Further advice
Further information and advice about lost/stolen phones is available on Ofcom’s website.