August 21, 2023

Industry Advice: Actions To Take To Deter And Minimise Mobile Phone Theft

Unfortunately, criminal thieves and fraudsters continue to target mobile phone owners and mobile phones go missing yearly, many of which are stolen, whcih can be distressing be disruptive for the victims.  

Conscious of the issue of mobile theft, the industry maintains advice and actions to take both on Mobile UK’s website and that of our member operators.

The industry also continues to work with Government as part of its commitment to the Telecommunications and Industry Crime Reduction Charter, agreed upon between the industry and the Home Office, to implement device blocking initiatives. This was agreed in 2015 and subsequently updated in 2018, and mobile operators continue to support the Charter.

Below we have outlined some useful tips to minimise the impact of loss or theft and necessary actions to take if your phone is stolen.

How to minimise the impact of loss or theft

Prepare for the loss of your phone by:

  • Putting in place a SIM card PIN number or password to prevent the phone from being used by anyone other than you. Where your SIM card is supplied set up with a default PIN, change this to a new number that only you know. Avoid “obvious” PINs such as 1111, 1234 etc.
  • Periodically back-up the phone or enable an automatic back-up where offered by the manufacturer, operating system provider or mobile operator.
  • Enable the “Find My Phone” capability where offered by the manufacturer, operating system provider or mobile operator.
  • Note down details of your phone on a piece of paper or post-it: your phone make and model; mobile number; IMEI number (a 15-digit manufacturer’s code) together with your mobile operator’s customer contact centre details for lost or stolen mobiles. Put this somewhere where you can find it (or tell someone else to find it) if your phone is lost or stolen.
  • Register the phone with – a UK database designed to assist the police in identifying and returning lost and stolen property.

If your phone is lost or stolen

  • If your phone is lost, then ring it or use the “Find My Phone” capability if operating. If you can identify where it is, then decide if and how to recover it. Consider whether you need to be accompanied by a family member or friend before you try to collect it.
  • If your phone is stolen, then get in touch with your mobile operator’s customer contact centre to report its loss. Operators typically offer several different ways to contact them including online form, IM chat and phone number which operate 24 hours a day.
  • Once you notify your operator, it will block your SIM card so that no one else can use it. It will also stop the phone from being used in the UK. Depending on operator terms and conditions, you may still be liable for usage if your phone is stolen - for any usage between the time when your phone is stolen and when you notify your operator. For this reason, notify your operator about the stolen phone as soon as you can and, ideally, within 24 hours. Once you have notified your operator, this limits your liability for any unauthorized use;
  • Report the loss of your phone to the Police and obtain a crime or loss reference number. You will need to do this if your phone is insured through your operator, household contents or holiday insurance and you decide to make a claim. When you report your phone stolen to your operator and to the police you will normally need to provide details of the make and model, mobile number and IMEI number.

In addition to blocking your stolen SIM card and phone, your operator will normally arrange to send you a new SIM card. Once you activate this in a different phone, it will work as normal with your existing mobile number.

You should also be able to restore your personal information if this was backed-up to a compatible device.

Further Information

For further information additional advice can be found at each mobile operators website:

About Building Mobile Britain

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Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.

See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain

Media Contacts

Gareth Elliott
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076

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