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Stolen phones. What are your rights?


CVByrne
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Hi I was told a story by a lad in work about a $6000 bill a friend of his got after their phone was stolen in Spain. He got the sim blocked about 24 hours after it was likely stolen.

I was just wondering if you'd be liable for that bill or not? Would you not be liable as it was stolen and you didn't somehow run up such and absurd bill in one day.

I remember all the massive roaming charges shocks people got and reading about it a bit. But they are different to a stolen phone.

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I don't know, but I assume the network will not lumber you with the bill if there is a clear spike in usage. The only time I guess they may not be so sympathetic is if the time to report the loss was deemed excessive. I expect <24hours would be ok.

btw, how did the thief rack up $6000 in a day?

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A decent phone insurance policy will cover you up to around £15,000 worth of fraudulent calls.

 

Unfortunately, if you aren't insured, likelihood of you getting it sorted by your provider is unlikely.

 

When these kind of amounts are racked up quickly its by calling a premium rate number, usually owned by somebody the thief knows. Say they call a £10/min line and rack up £10,000 - the person who they're calling will receive this money and the original thief will receive a cut.

Edited by samjp26
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I know my mate refused to pay a large roaming bill a couple of years ago. His phone wasn't stolen or anything. But in the end he got an agreement and only paid like 15% of the bill. 

 

 

I assume if you refuse to pay this kind of bill after a phone was stolen the phone company would try to come to some agreement with you. Expecting a normal person to pay $6000 for a bill on a stolen phone is plain ridiculous.

 

I'd imagine it has to be similar to credit card fraud.

 

 

I don't know the exact info behind the $6000 bill, it's 2nd hand information. But really just wondered what would be the right cause of action in such an instance. I'd play hardball and flat out refuse to pay such a bill. It wouldn't be worth it for a company to try take you to court in my opinion. 

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Another good reason to use PAYG.

 

The account holder is liable for calls made until the phone is reported stolen. The network might be flexible / understanding and it might not. As someone has said above, if he has insurance it's probably covered, although that depends on the terms of the cover and the details of the theft.

 

There's no comparison with credit cards.

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Very interesting. It is a great point with regards PAYG that we never mentioned in Contracts thread. 

 

I'd have to say that phone companies are a tad liable for a $6,000 bill that was racked up inside a day of premium lines while someone is abroad. 

 

I still think that in this situation, like a company not wanting to honour insurance payouts, just play never ending hardball. They will have to come to an agreement as court is the last place they want to end up, they know how often it goes against the phone company. 

 

 

I'm switching to a contract on 3 in the coming weeks and I'll certainly bring up liability etc.. for calls made on a stolen phone now where I wouldn't have before hearing this story. 

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£21k bill for stolen phone, Vodafone suspended service from the phone once it reached £21k.

 

Afterwards, they agreed to waive the bill.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2298750/Recruitment-worker-23-left-21-000-phone-thief-uses-stolen-mobile-premium-rate-spending-spree.html

 

 

This is a good point. If it was a few hundred racked up from making normal calls then you can take it on the chin and pay. but being able to rack up thousands is clear organised crime and fraud for which they cannot hold you liable. 

 

You just argue with them and they will give in. 

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This is a good point. If it was a few hundred racked up from making normal calls then you can take it on the chin and pay. but being able to rack up thousands is clear organised crime and fraud for which they cannot hold you liable. 

 

You just argue with them and they will give in. 

 

No, it is not. You have agreed through a contract to pay all charges incurred until you have notified them of the theft. The only way out of this is if the mobile provider agrees to waive the charges. If you want to take out an action against the thief for fraud, then that is your choice. The allegation of a fraud does not shift the liability for the phone charges.

 

Use PAYG, take out insurance, use a network with credit caps or phone Watchdog. If you don't pay and they don't waive, then they will sell the debt and you will end up with CCJs and still owe the money.

 

I suspect that the reason these charges are so often waived is because they don't want Ofcom looking into this too closely. They also like the publicity of the horror story bills which they then waive.

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Well that's the point. By constantly negotiating with them and refusing to pay such a bill it will inevitably lead to them waiving the charges. 

 

Also from the articles that I've read it seems many judges will side with the victim and not the company in these matters and that a settlement lower than the amount owed is nearly always reached. Again this must be a factor in the reason the phone company tries to come to an agreement with you.

 

You can say what is legally the case limpid, but I suppose what really matters is what is really the case in the way these are settled as that's all that really matters in the end. 

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You can say what is legally the case limpid, but I suppose what really matters is what is really the case in the way these are settled as that's all that really matters in the end. 

 

Your original question was asking about liability. He is liable. I agree completely that he is unlikely to have to pay.

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I know it was the original question, hence me explaining that it's more what happens in the end that matters and is what the question really should be. 

 

 

I'll try find out what happens with him. 

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Limpid's right that legally they're responsible, but worst case scenario is he feigns outrage and contacts a few tabloids to get off the hook.

 

"SCUMBAG phone provider holds VICTIM responsible for actions of a THIEF(a foreigner, possibly not even white!)."

 

The fee will be dropped no problem.

Edited by Davkaus
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