If your phone was stolen and the thieves racked up a huge bill, would you expect to be liable?
Unfortunately this is all too often the reality. Take my case for example. An old phone was stolen when our house was burgled, and given that close to 100 other items were also stolen, we didn’t immediately notice the mobile was missing as we hadn’t used it for months. The only reason we kept it was because it was cheaper to pay the nominal monthly contract than the cancellation fee.
Or at least it was cheaper until the burglars spent £1,400 on calls to Colombia in just 72 hours, and T-Mobile told us we had to pay!
Apparently this is a common gripe against all the big mobile operators – there are hundreds of similar stories on the web. Many people don’t have phone insurance (and even if you do, it often only covers the cost of replacing the phone. My question is why doesn’t T-Mobile (and the others) have the technology in place to prevent this sort of crime from the outset? While not compulsory, most banks have regular checking systems in place that alert them to any potentially fraudulent activity on the account) – surely this kind of technology could and should be easily transferred to check for unusual activity on mobiles too?
In fact, I’d argue that mobile operators have a similar duty of care to their customers. Just as banks can temporarily put a hold on credit and debit cards in the interests of fraud prevention, phone companies should automatically block the SIM card when the bill goes over a certain level or when the activity does not fit with general usage patterns.
I’d certainly choose a company that offered me this peace of mind over a cheaper rival any day – it’s just unfortunate that there isn’t really any choice at the moment.