Losing your smartphone could potentially be a disastrous scenario. Many people keep a huge amount of information on their smartphone, from their contact lists, text messages, email accounts and even banking applications and similar. Our application and music collections may be worth quite a bit of money too. We often have our social media accounts permanently signed in and losing control of these could cause quite a stir amongst our friends and loved ones. Indeed, the value of the smartphone is probably less than the value of the data and potential damage of having our social media accounts modified. Plus the thief may be able to use our SIM card to make calls, some of which could be to international or premium rate numbers. Losing our device, losing our data and getting a big bill would not be great!
We’ve seen an announcement today that five of the larger UK carriers – EE, O2, Three, Vodafone and Virgin Media – have agreed to introduce a liability cap on bills at £100 when a device is reported lost or stolen within twenty four hours of the incident. The British Minister for the Digital Economy said this on the matter: “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.” Three has already introduced the £100 liability cap with the other four set to introduce it over the coming months. The deal is a part of a new Code of Practice that all five operators have signed. The new Code covers out of bundle charges, clearer and more transparent ways to see information about pricing, international roaming and premium rate services.
On balance, this announcement is good news. If a device is lost or stolen, customers are only liable for the first £100 of a big bill run up inside a few hours. Customers must tell both the network (the priority, as this will disable the SIM card) and the police inside the first twenty four hours. Of course, prevention is better than cure and I’d hope that all smartphone owners have at least a device lock in place. In an ideal world, there’s also a SIM lock in place, which prevents the thief from either using the device or the SIM card.