In the UK around £1.5 billion worth of gadgets are lost or stolen each year, according to recent research by O2, with mobile phone thefts in particular being blamed for an 8 percent rise in personal thefts covering England and Wales.
Losing your mobile phone can be a distressing, painful and costly experience – those without insurance find themselves forking out hundreds of pounds for a replacement, or being stuck in an 18 or 24-month contract for a phone they no longer have.
Even if you have adequate insurance cover, you could be liable for expensive calls thieves are able to rack up on your phone. So what should you do if your phone is lost or stolen?
Report it immediately
Whether you believe your phone has been stolen, or you’ve simply left it somewhere you shouldn’t, you should report it to the police ASAP. You should also get in contact with your service provider and insurance firm (if applicable) at your earliest convenience.
If your phone is not password protected, thieves will have access to your personal information and will be able to make calls that could end up costing you if you wait to report your loss. Your service provider can help by placing a bar or block on your SIM which stops calls from being made under your account. They can also block your phone’s IMEI.
If you’re on contract
If you are unlucky enough to have your phone stolen while paying for a lengthy contract, your service provider will be able to send you a replacement SIM – although they may decide to charge you an administrative fee.
If you are insured, you should be able to claim for a new handset, however, if you aren’t covered, you will either have to buy a new handset for your current contract, or pay your contract off and start a new one.
TIP: If you do not have insurance cover, it might be worth checking your home/contents and car insurance, as you may be covered under one of these.
You may not be able to prevent someone from stealing your phone, but there are certain steps you can take in order to make it harder for thieves to get away with it. Here are some simple actions you can take to protect your phone and your data:
Registering your phone on Immobilise can help police get your mobile phone back to you – it can also prevent thieves from being able to sell your phone on to second-hand traders. The service helps the authorities to locate thousands of mobile phone owners each day, and it only takes a few minutes to sign up.
Installing apps such as ‘Find my iPhone’ and ‘Prey’ (both free) can help you track and locate your lost or stolen handset, and take steps to protect your data.
Don’t keep sensitive information that is easily accessible on your phone; if you absolutely must store data such as banking information, passwords or PINs, use one of the many free or paid password-protected apps on the market.
If possible, use the lock feature on your phone using a passcode that is not easily hackable (1,2,3,4 or 0,0,0,0 are out).
If possible, insure your phone; it’ll be worth it in the long run.
A stolen phone can lead to a lot of stress and disruption in your life, but by taking preventative measures, and acting immediately in the case of theft, you can prevent thieves from getting the better of you.