When Your Mobile Phone is Stolen, You Need to Act Within Minutes
When your mobile phone is stolen, losing the device is the least of your worries. Usually, if you don’t act immediately to freeze your number, you could be hit with a bill for thousands of dollars as the thief makes long-distance calls for as much as your phone will take. What exactly happens when a thief takes a phone, though– why do they need to make all these calls to Africa, South America and Asia?
Call Verizon Wireless and Get Them To Cancel Your Contract.
The timeliness of this action can’t be understated. And Verizon will be grateful that they don’t have to dispute these charges with you. They may even give you a Verizon Wireless promo code for a free phone, an upgrade, or canceling the activation fee on your next phone.
Phone thieves aren’t pickpockets working for themselves
Phone theft is a profitable business. It attracts large criminal gangs. Phone theft gangs aren’t after your phone for its great screen or 4G mobile broadband. They are just as happy stealing a disposable £10 Nokia as they are stealing the latest iPhone. Rather than the device itself, they are interested in a phone calling scam that they are able to perform.
Premium number-calling scams
If you’ve ever looked carefully at a newspaper or magazine, you’ve probably seen little advertisements for premium numbers – numbers that offer steamy chats with beautiful women, astrological readings, betting and so on. These numbers usually cost something around £10 for every minute that you use them. When you make a call to one of these numbers, the £10-a-minute charge is added to your bill. Phone thieves use these numbers as a convenient way to extract money out of their stolen phones.
They set up these $10-a-minute premium number services themselves and call them with their stolen phones. When a thief calls a $10-a-minute premium number with your phone, both your mobile provider and the owner of the phone service share the money. Since setting up these phone numbers in the States would get these thieves into trouble, they set them up elsewhere around the world.
Who is liable for these calls?
In the U.S., phones on monthly contracts have no billing caps. When thieves steal mobile phones, they usually begin making calls to their premium numbers the same minute, hoping to run up a bill worth thousands. If it takes you six hours to discover that someone’s taken your phone, you can potentially be on the hook for $3,600. It doesn’t help if you have insurance, either. Most phone insurance policies only protect you once you report the theft.
Consumer advocacy groups tend to protest these policies. They point to the fact that it can be easy for a mobile provider to catch such phone fraud by simply looking out for unusual calling patterns. If a phone owner doesn’t usually call international numbers much, the very fact that there are nonstop international calls being made can throw up an alert. Such safeguards are in place with credit cards, already. When credit cards are suddenly found to be in use in strange locations, credit card companies often try to call users to verify the genuineness of the transactions in question. The Consumer Credit Act makes sure that a certain minimum level of protection is in place. Unfortunately, the law permits mobile carriers to do as they please in this area.
It doesn’t help even if your mobile service offers you the ability to put a credit limit in place (Virgin Mobile offers you this ability, for instance). Mobile providers claim that these limits don’t work reliably on international calls. According to them, it can take time for foreign networks to report call costs back to them. Thieves can easily run up bills for thousands before call costs are reported back. Unfortunately, this claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If you are on a pay-as-you-go phone, call costs are reported back in real time – which is why your phone gets cut off if you run out of phone credit. It would appear that the phone networks are simply interested in allowing criminals to continue with their scams because they are very profitable to them.