Consumer: New bill cap for mobile phone theft victims

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Mobile phone users will be protected from huge bills if their devices are stolen under new measures.

Customers have been landed with charges of thousands of pounds because their handsets have been used by thieves.

Under a voluntary agreement five leading providers – EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone – will introduce a “liability cap” of £100 which will be activated as long as the phone is reported lost or stolen within 24 hours of going missing. It means the most a victim of theft will pay is £100.

Citizens Advice said consumers regularly contact them for help after being hit with five-figure bills. Between April last year and February the organisation estimates that users have lost as much as £140,000 because of bills on stolen mobiles.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Victims of phone crime should not be paying excessive bills run up by thieves.

“A cap on bills from stolen mobile phones will come as much-needed relief to consumers targeted by phone fraudsters.

“Citizens Advice has been calling for a cap to be put in place after helping consumers landed with bills as high as £23,000.

She added: “We will be keeping a close eye on the phone providers’ caps to see if they do really protect phone crime victims from the worst bills.”

Ed Vaizey, Minister for the Digital Economy, said:”Protecting hardworking families from shock bills through no fault of their own has been a priority for this government. By working with the mobile operators, we have secured an agreement that will provide consumers with real benefits as well as offer peace of mind.”

Kip Meek, of EE, said: “We advise customers to protect their phone as they would their wallet and make full use of the security features, including SIM lock. If a phone is lost or stolen, however, it is crucial customers let us know as soon as possible.”