THE UK GOVERNMENT and mobile service providers will take steps to prevent criminals from using stolen phones to make calls and run up bills.
In an announcement Culture Secretary Maria Miller said on Tuesday that the government enlisted four service providers in its plans, and named EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone (PDF). BT and Sky have also agreed, she added.
"We are ensuring hardworking families are not hit with shock bills through no fault of their own. Families can be left struggling if carefully planned budgets are being blown away by unexpected bills from a stolen mobile or a mid-contract price rise," said Miller.
"This agreement with the telecoms companies will deliver real benefits to consumers and help ensure people are not hit with shock bills."
The associated service providers will play their part in a variety of ways. The minister said that they have agreed to cap bills on phones that are reported as being lost or stolen, and will not increase tariffs mid-contract.
They have also committed to eliminating roaming charges by 2016, while the bill cap is expected to be put in place sometime next year. No figure was mentioned, other than the suggestion that it might be in line with losses on pilfered credit cards, which are capped at £50.
"Most people now place large parts of their lives on their mobile phones - from friends and loved ones' numbers, to photos of great nights out. The last thing you need after the hassle of a stolen mobile is to find that someone has used it and landed you with a sky high bill too," added Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson.
"Phone companies have listened to government and to their customers and I welcome their agreement to protect them from unexpected costs and mid-contract price rises." µ