Major mobile networks have confirmed plans to introduce protection for consumers from huge bills run-up on stolen mobiles following Government action.

Under the voluntary agreement, five mobile networks – EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone – will protect around 27 million consumers on pay monthly contracts from being hit with shock bills through no fault of their own. They will all offer consumers a liability cap set at £100 when reported within 24 hours of being lost or stolen to the mobile network and police.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for the Digital Economy, said:

Protecting hardworking families from shock bills through no fault of their own has been a priority for this government. 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.

Three has been the first mobile network to introduce this protection for its customers in January 2015. The other operators have now confirmed their plans:

  • EE will introduce in the coming weeks;
  • O2 will introduce the cap by September 2015;
  • Virgin will introduce the cap from 1 July 2015; and
  • Vodafone will introduce the cap this summer.

The protection comes as part of a new Code of Practice that all five mobile operators have signed up to. The code will also help protect consumers themselves from unexpectedly high bills and excessive costs from:

  • Out of bundles charges – by providing clear and transparent pricing information, alerts when they reach data bundle limits or the ability to monitor usage.
  • Roaming – providing information on how to turn off data roaming and avoid roaming charges.
  • Premium Rate Services and in-app purchases – provide barring function so consumers can protect against unauthorised or inadvertently calls to premium rate voice services, and protections against in-app purchases.
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