Mobile phones now do so much more than simply make calls that many of us would be completely lost without them. Unfortunately thousands of phones do go missing each year and many of these will have been stolen.
But if your phone does go missing you could be left with a much bigger headache than simply having to replace your handset. Not only are many smartphones worth hundreds of pounds, but thieves can quickly rack up huge bills on stolen phones.
You may be liable for all charges run up on your phone before you have reported it lost or stolen to your provider. This is usually set out in the terms and conditions of your contract. Therefore, it's important you contact your provider as soon as possible to avoid facing high charges as a result of unauthorised use.
Protecting your phone:
You should always treat your phone as carefully as you would your bank or credit cards. Make sure that you always take care when using your phone in public, and don't let it out of your possession.
Make sure you put a passcode on both your handset and SIM to make it more difficult for thieves to use.
There are a number of other steps you can take to keep your mobile safe and prevent against unintentional use
Make a record of your phone's IMEI number, as well as the make and model number. The IMEI is a unique 15-digit serial number which you will need to get the phone blocked. You can get your IMEI number by keying *#06# into your handset or by looking behind your phone battery.
Consider barring calls to international and premium rate numbers (numbers which offer services you are charged for through your monthly phone bill or through credit on your mobile phone) to limit the usefulness of your phone to thieves.
Some mobile insurance policies may provide some cover for unauthorised use so it is worth checking the terms and conditions of your existing policy, or when considering a new policy.
There are apps which can trace your phone if it is lost/stolen and can wipe details from it remotely – such as findmyiphone and findmyphone for Android.
Register your phone with Immobilise, which is a database containing the details of millions of mobile phones and other property.
The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit is a useful source of advice on how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of phone crime.
Further advice -which was put together with the support of major phone manufacturers is also available on on the Police.uk website.
What if your phone is stolen?
Contact your provider as soon as possible. It can then bar your SIM to stop calls being made on your account. Your provider can also stop anyone else from using your phone by blocking its IMEI.
Remember, if you have mobile phone insurance, you may be obliged to let them know within a certain time frame too.
To report your phone lost/stolen:
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