Lost or stolen phone

Published: 22 January 2024

Pickpocket stealing phone

Many of us would be lost without our mobile phone.

Unfortunately, thousands of phones go missing each year and many of these will have been stolen.

If your phone goes missing, you could be left with a much bigger headache than simply having to replace it.

Not only are many smartphones worth hundreds of pounds, thieves can also quickly rack up huge bills on stolen phones.

You may be liable for all charges run up on your phone until you report it as lost or stolen to your provider. Contact your provider as soon as possible to avoid facing high charges as a result of unauthorised use.

If your phone goes missing and you are with Three, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, EE or O2, you should only have to pay a maximum of £100 for any unauthorised use outside of your allowance – if you report your phone as missing within 24 hours.

If you are with Vodafone and you miss the 24-hour window but report your phone as missing within five days, you should only have to pay up to £500 for unauthorised use outside of your allowance.

Treat your phone as carefully as you would your bank or credit cards.

Take care when using your phone in public and don't let it out of your possession. Make sure you put a passcode on both your handset and SIM to make it harder for thieves to use.

Follow these steps to keep your phone safe and prevent unauthorised use:

  • Make a record of your phone's IMEI number, as well as the make and model number. The IMEI is a unique 15-digit serial number which you will need to get the phone blocked. You can get your IMEI number by keying *#06# into your handset or by looking behind your phone battery.
  • Think about barring calls to international and premium rate numbers to make your phone less useful to thieves.
  • Some mobile insurance policies provide cover for unauthorised use, so check the terms and conditions of your existing policy, or when looking at a new policy.
  • Download an app which can trace your phone if it is lost or stolen, or wipe details from it remotely.
  • Register your phone with Immobilise, a database which helps the police to identify the owners of property, such as phones, that they recover.

Ofcom's guide to keeping your smartphone secure is a useful source of advice on how to protect yourself from phone crime.

  • Contact your provider as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. They can then bar your SIM to stop calls being made on your account and can also stop anyone else from using your phone by blocking its IMEI.
  • You can also request a replacement SIM (with your existing phone number on it) without also having to buy a new contract for calls and data. Your provider will be able to tell you the cost of the SIM, but typically it will be zero or low.
  • You are also free to purchase a replacement handset from a retailer other than your mobile provider, including retailers that specialise in selling reconditioned handsets and devices. Buying a handset without a contract is likely to be more affordable than buying a new contract.
  • If you have mobile phone insurance, let your insurer know as soon as possible.
  • If you activated findmyiphone/Android Device Manager on your phone, you may be able to locate your phone and erase content remotely.
ProviderDialling from the UKDialling from abroad
3333 (Three phone)
0333 338 1001 (any other phone)
+44 7782 333 333
EE07953 966 250+44 7953 966 250
Orange (report online via EE customer service)07973 100 150 (pay-monthly) 07973 100 450 (PAYG)+44 7973 100 150 (pay-monthly) +44 7973 100 450 (PAYG)
O20344 809 0202  (pay-monthly)
0344 809 0222 (PAYG)
+44 344 809 0202 (pay monthly)
+44 344 809 0222 (PAYG)
T-Mobile0845 412 5000+44 7953 966 150
Vodafone03333 040191 +44 7836 191 191
Tesco Mobile4455 (Tesco Mobile phone)
0345 301 4455 (any other phone)
+44 345 301 4455
Virgin Mobile789 (Virgin Media phone)
0345 6000 789 (any other phone)
+44 7458 333 789

Request an alternative format

Call 020 7981 3040, use textphone 020 7981 3043 or write to the Digital team.

Back to top