Mobile phone owners can only be charged up to a maximum of £100 by mobile phone companies if their phone is stolen, under a new voluntary scheme backed by the government.
Vodafone, EE, O2, Three and Virgin Media have agreed to implement new rules that mean if a phone is reported stolen to the police and a customer’s mobile network within 24 hours, they will not be charged more than £100 for call and data costs.
The move is designed to stop bill shock when someone has their phone stolen and the thief runs up huge costs by making phone calls abroad or purchasing large data bundles.
Minister for the digital economy Ed Vaizey said it was important such rules were in place to protect the public.
“Protecting hardworking families from shock bills through no fault of their own has been a priority for this government,” he said.
“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.”
Three has already implemented this policy while EE has plans to do so in “the coming weeks”. Vodafone will introduce it "in the summer", Virgin Media from 1 July while O2 will introduce it from September 2015.
All the operators said in statements that they were happy to follow the code, agreeing that it was important customers were not at risk from huge bills that were not their fault.
Hamish MacLeod, chair of the Mobile Broadband Group, echoed this, offering some tips to consumers to help protect their phones as well.
“We urge customers to continue taking steps to look after their phone – always using a PIN, installing a tracker app, registering devices at immobilise.com and reporting a loss as soon as possible,” he said.
The move comes after plans to end roaming costs by the end of 2015 were put on hold by MEPs, after they decided to reconsider whether the changes in place are fair, a situation that could last until 2018.
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