Operators want to cap charges on stolen mobiles

Operators' joint initiative will protect consumers against high bills for unauthorised calls
Operators’ joint initiative will protect consumers against high bills for unauthorised calls

The UK government in cooperation with major operators announced their initiative to introduce £100 cap in order to safeguard consumers from horrendous bills.

EE, O2, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone are the first major mobile providers that decided to sign a new Code of Practice prepared by Mobile Broadband Group (MBG) and endorsed by the British government. Among many new protection policies in the Code, the most exciting is the introduction of so-called “liability cap” which protects pay monthly customers from being faced with shock bills. The operators established that the cap will be set at £100 so that their customers will not pay more than that if their phone was lost or stolen. The requirement is that customers have to report the incident to the police and their operator within 24 hours.

If you have a PAYG SIM card, you won’t lose much money due to your phone being misused by criminals. In the worst case scenario, you will lose money equal to the value of your phone plus your credit, which probably is never more than 30 quids. Pay monthly customers have much more to lose. National Mobile Phone Crime Unit reports that there are roughly 300,000 mobile phones reported as stolen each year. Some consumers supposedly received bills as high as £23,000 for unauthorised calls made by criminals. Citizen Advice Bureau estimates that in a period of 11 months (from April 2014 to February 2015) thieves were responsible for £140,000 of loss just for the bills on stolen mobile phones.  The new liability cap will give contract customers some peace of mind as they won’t have to worry about the mobile charges that thieves can run up.

Among the members of MBG, only Three UK has introduced such a cap so far. Other operators promised to do so this year. EE said that their cap will be rolled out in the upcoming weeks, Virgin announced it to happen on July 1, Vodafone will follow others this summer, while O2 gave itself a deadline of September 2015.  However, outside the MBG there is one operator that has already thought about the issue.  It is Tesco Mobile which have even lower cap of just £50.

Nevertheless, the official statistics show how big problem stolen mobile phones is. Remember that normally the operator will probably hold you responsible for any charges incurred before informing them and it’s up to them whether they will reduce the bill as a gesture of good will. Even though being robbed of your phone shouldn’t be a likely situation we can see how PAYG SIM cards are superior to PAYM ones in such a case, but thankfully the “liability cap” will protect customers against receiving a shocking bill.