Customers who have their phones stolen won’t have to face massive bills thanks to a new fee-capping agreement.
Five of the UK’s major mobile networks will only charge consumers a maximum levy of £100 if thieves rack up expensive fees on nabbed devices.
That’s a major boon to phone users in the UK, as thieves have been known to run up bills worth many thousands of pounds using stolen handsets.
According to The Independent, Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “A cap on bills from stolen mobile phones will come as much-needed relief to consumers targeted by phone fraudsters.”
Guy explained that some consumers had faced bills as high as £23,000, the majority of which would be relieved by networks under the new cap.
To utilise the cap, mobile phone customers will need to report the theft within 24 hours.
Around 300,000 mobile devices are stolen every year, many of which are used by thieves to spin dodgy money on premium phone lines.
Digital minister Ed Vaizey, said: “By working with the mobile operators, we have secured an agreement that will provide customers with real benefits as well as offer peace of mind.”
The agreement is completely voluntary, but has seen support committed from EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media, and Vodafone.
Three already put the measures in place back in January, with EE set to enforce the cap in the coming weeks.
Virgin and Vodafone will opt into the scheme in July, with O2 finally joining in September this year.
Unfortunately, not everyone is entirely pleased with the agreement. Consumer watchdog Which? claimed that the new measures don’t go far enough, and called for a complete scrap on post-theft mobile phone bills.
According to the group, if a customer reports a handset as stolen within 48 hours, fees should be waived entirely.
While the agreement is a step in the right direction, the consortium's pledge pales somewhat compared to Tesco Mobile's existing £50 fee cap, which has been in place for year.
Simon Groves, Chief Marketing Officer at Tesco Mobile, said: "The £100 liability cap agreed yesterday is a good move for the mobile industry; it is important that we do whatever we can to protect customers from fraudulent activity."
"Tesco Mobile has been doing this for years for stolen phones and we cap all our charges at £50 as standard in these instances."
He added: "More importantly we also encourage our customers to cap their contracts at a price that suits them using Capped Contracts, meaning they will never have to suffer from a nasty bill shock, whether at home or abroad."