Mobile phone theft – be very aware!

3 min read
March 11, 2016

(11/3/2016) 2,000 mobile phones are stolen a day in the UK. And with a typical smart phone worth more than £400, that means hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of mobiles are stolen every year.

Phone Theft

If you’re shocked by that, another shocking fact is that you are responsible for all call costs until you report the phone as stolen. It is estimated 1 in 10 stolen phones register significant use of the phone before it is reported. In fact, thieves rack up an estimated £11.6 million of unwanted calls a year that customers are having to pay.

In 2012, the government proposed a cost cap on liability similar to the one that covers the finance industry, yet three years later nothing has been done.

These are Resolver’s top tips for making sure you don’t get a shocking bill


Report the theft straight away, especially if your phone does not have a security lock. Even if it is late at night, get hold of your operator and if necessary get a temporary block on your number.

These are the numbers in case you need to get through to customer services if not calling from your mobile.

  • O2 – 0344 8090202 or +44 344 8090202 from abroad
  • Tesco Mobile – 0345 301 4455
  • EE/T-Mobile – 07953 966 250 or +44 7953 966 250 from abroad
  • Orange – 07973 100 150 or +44 7973 100 150 from abroad
  • Vodafone – 03333 040 101
  • Three – 0333 300 3333 or +44 7782 333 333 from abroad

Once you’ve reported the issue to the mobile company, ensure you also report the issue to the police and get a crime reference number.


Super-simple: ensure that you have a passcode set up on your mobile so anyone who finds your phone cannot simply use your phone without your consent. Thieves can still get around this, but it will slow down the process.


Register your phone on the national property register Immobilise. This means if the police find your phone they can get it back to you. For this you need your mobile’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.

You can find your IMEI by entering *#06# into the keypad of your phone

This is a number between 14 and 18 digits long. This number also helps prevent calls being made.

When a phone is switched on, this unique IMEI number is transmitted and this number is checked against a database of handsets that have been reported as lost or stolen to the mobile phone network provider’s Equipment Identity Register (EIR).


The key phone manufacturers have features to help you if your phone is stolen or is simply missing.

On Android you can use the Android Device Manager, although you need to ensure it is set up and that you can access it online. The device can be located to an area within a 25-metre radius. You can also remove access to your apps so that you can prevent access to your private information. There are also some great third-party security apps for Android.

On iOS, unless you have set up ‘Find my Phone’, there is little you can do. If you have ‘Find my Phone’ activated, however, you can remotely find your device, text your device or wipe your device.

These systems rely on the phone being switched on!


One final precaution to consider is to take out mobile phone insurance. If you do, compare policies before buying. As part of this, make sure it covers your device and that is covers replacement of the phone and phone call charges, including if you lose the phone as well as if it is stolen.

If you are having a fight with your insurance provider, remember you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman after eight weeks of raising a complaint. They will look at your case and consider if the firm has treated you fairly and reasonably.

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