What To Do If You Lose Your Mobile Phone

by - Last Updated on September 24, 2018

Losing your phone can be a bit of a nightmare, but there's more at stake than just your handset and contact numbers…fortunately there are a few steps that you need to take.

It's More Than a Phone

Here's the deal: you might be upset because you've just lost your new iPhone, but this isn't just a question of your handset. A far bigger problem here is the fact that you can be held accountable for all those charges that appear on your phone bill even after it's gone missing. Someone finds your phone and decides to call Australia? Guess who's paying for it: you are. That sounds pretty unfair, but there are ways around this.

Report Your Phone Lost or Stolen

Your absolute first step is to go to your local police station and file a lost or stolen phone report. Okay, so the coppers aren't going to be interviewing suspects and tracking leads, but you'll need the piece of paper that you receive as proof that you have indeed lost your phone. You will almost certainly be liable for any charges on the phone that are racked up before you file this report, so do it as soon as possible. Keep the police report in a safe place because you will probably need to show it to your mobile operator as well as to your insurance company if applicable. Just to be clear: should someone make calls on your phone before you file this report you will be liable for these charges, and legally there is nothing you can do to dispute them!

Once you've filed this report, then immediately inform your mobile operator of the loss. This should prevent further charges being added to your account as in most cases your operator will then cut off service from the phone in question.

Wipe It (If You Can)

If you were a smart cookie and downloaded an app that allows you to wipe data from your phone, then you should go ahead and make use of it. The app should get rid of all passwords, personal info and other stuff, making it tough for a potential thief to access anything that could harm you financially. If you happen to have online banking on your phone or things like a registered Amazon account, then you'll need to inform the appropriate people (such as your bank manager!) and change all your passwords to prevent someone using your accounts.

Getting a Replacement

It sucks to lose your handset, and if you had the foresight to get mobile insurance, then you'll need to check out the terms now. Have a read of your contract and then report the loss to your insurance company. Don't forget to check not only your house insurance (which could cover your mobile) but also your credit card and bank (since these places sometimes have mobile insurance included if you bought the phone using your credit or bank card). If you're lucky, then your insurance company will pay up and you can buy yourself a new phone with the proceeds.

In terms of not having insurance and relying on your operator, you're going to be out of luck. Your mobile operator is not required to replace your phone and probably will not do so. That means that if you got the phone on an incentive contract and are still paying for it then you will have to continue making those payments whether or not you still own the phone.

Bill Disputes

So what happens if you get your next bill and find that there are charges on it that you're not responsible for? You need to dispute it. If you did get insurance then check with your insurance company, as sometimes they will cover the cost of unauthorised phone use (some companies even cover charges made before you report your mobile stolen, though most don't). Otherwise, you're going to need to write to your mobile operator (yes, an email is fine).

When writing you should include a copy of the bill with the unauthorised charges clearly marked, as well as a copy of the police report indicating when your phone was stolen. If you can try and include payment for the part of the bill that you are responsible for (this shows the company that you're willing to pay some of the fees). The operator has eight weeks to come to a decision, after which you can again write to them and request a Letter of Deadlock. This letter simply says that you and the operator cannot agree on terms. You will then need to send the deadlock letter along with an explanation of the circumstances to the Ombudsman for Communications (check out the OFCOM website for contact info) which is an objective body that will decide the matter for you.

Don't be put off by how complicated this sounds, in most cases an operator simply wipes the charges made after the police report was filed.

Losing your phone (or possibly having it stolen) is a bit of a pain, and it's important that you act fast so that you don't end up paying for someone else's calls, messages or data. Most of the time you'll find that these charges are wiped if you've followed the proper procedures. And don't forget to change those account passwords, at best you might get a saucy status update on Facebook, but you could get your bank account accessed in the worst case.