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EE, O2 Vodafone et al set to cap bills for stolen phones

The UK’s leading mobile providers have all agreed to cap bills for devices that have been stolen

Phone money

EE, Three, O2, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone have all entered into a voluntary agreement that will see bills capped for mobile phones that the owner has reported stolen.

Bills incurred while a phone is lost will be capped at 100 following the agreement, and will apply to around 27 million monthly subscribers who have reported their device missing within 24 hours.

Ed Vaizey, digital economy minister, said in a statement: "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."

Around 300,000 mobile phones are reported stolen in the UK every year, according to the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit.

"This agreement demonstrates our continued commitment to deliver usage safeguards and advice to our customers... This new cap builds on the safety and security advice we already give to customers and should provide additional peace of mind if their phone goes missing," an O2 spokesperson added.

Details for individual carriers were revealed with a statement issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). While Three has already introduced the scheme, EE will follow in "the coming weeks", Virgin Mobile in July and O2 in September. Vodafone will be the last to introduce the cap, with plans to start offering it to customers sometime this summer.

Annie Brooks, director of Virgin Mobile, said: "This cross-industry agreement simplifies things for consumers by making the treatment of fraudulent use of lost or stolen phones consistent. It remains vital that people report their phone is lost or stolen as soon as possible.

The move is part of the new Code of Practice being introduced in an effort to protect consumers from huge bills incurred for reasons such as out of bundles charges, roaming, premium rate services and in-app purchases. Providers must therefore offer more clear and transparent information.

"This announcement is a major new protection for customer and is in line with the industry's longstanding commitment to help our customers protect their mobile and its contents," said Hamish MacLeod, chair of the Mobile Broadband Group.

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