Under a “voluntary agreement”, five mobile players in the UK – EE, O2, 3, Virgin Media and Vodafone – will introduce protection measures for consumers from huge bills run-up on stolen mobiles, following government action.
This “will protect around 27 million consumers on pay monthly contracts from being hit with shock bills through no fault of their own,” according to a statement by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.
The operators will offer consumers a liability cap set at £100 when a device is reported lost or stolen to the mobile network and police within 24 hours.
According to Ed Vaizey, minister for the digital economy: “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.”
According to the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU), around 300,000 mobiles are reported stolen to the police each year in the UK.
3 was the first mobile network to introduce this protection for its customers, starting in January 2015. EE said it will do so in the coming weeks, O2 by September, Virgin by July and Vodafone sometime in the summer.
The protection comes as part of a new code of practice that all five mobile operators have signed.
This will also help provide consumers with information on pricing, how to avoid roaming charges, and a barring function so they can be protected against “unauthorised or inadvertent calls to premium rate voice services, and protections against in-app purchases”.
Earlier this month, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom said it is conducting an “overarching review” of the country’s digital communications, with the aim of making sure the market “continues to work for consumers and businesses”.