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article imageThe high cost of mobile phone theft

By Alexander Baron     Oct 22, 2011 in Crime
According to yesterday's BBC Radio 4 'Money Box' programme, more than 10,000 mobile phones are stolen every month. For some owners, that is only where their problems begin.
While phones can be bought and replaced fairly cheaply, sometimes the cost of the hardware is the least of the victim's worries. Some thefts have led to disgruntled customers being sent enormous bills when, in a relatively short time, the stolen phones have been used to make calls to such exotic places as Afghanistan. In one instance, Orange sent a bill for fifteen hundred pounds to a deaf man who used his phone only to text. Another unlucky customer received a demand for eleven hundred pounds from the same company, though Orange is not the only provider to make such demands. Although the deaf man eventually had his bill written off, some people have not been so lucky, and there have been calls for a cap to be placed on customers' liabilities, as with stolen bank cards.
The phone companies insist they do have security features in place, and that these do work, but not well enough apparently, and considering the volume of traffic on the different networks, effective security is easier to talk about than to execute. The key points to bear in mind though are 1) look after your phone; don't put it somewhere it can be easily stolen; don't forget it, etc. 2) Use a PIN; this will give you another layer of security. 3) Inform your provider immediately in the event of theft or loss. This last plank was the best advice Money Box could offer.
To be scrupulously fair, Orange and other companies also advise their customers on security issues. See here, for example.
Although the cost of mobile phone theft can be high, fortunately few people pay as high a price as Glyn Darkin. If you are in any way squeamish, don't look at this photograph. In January 2003, the thug who caused these horrific injuries was sentenced to a mere 8 years' imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court.
For those who can download it, the latest Money Box can currently be found here.
More about Money Box, mobile phone theft, cellphone theft, Glyn Darkin, Orange
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