Lost or stolen phone

13 July 2015

Pickpocket stealing phone

Mobile phones now do so much more than simply make calls that many of us would be completely lost without them.

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

But if your phone does go missing you could be left with a much bigger headache than simply having to replace your handset.

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

You may be liable for all charges run up on your phone when it goes missing up until you report it as lost or stolen to your provider. Therefore, it's important you 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 for mobile services, you should only be responsible for paying up to a maximum of £100 for any unauthorised usage outside of your allowance- if you report your phone as missing within 24 hours.

If you are with Vodafone and you miss the 24 hours but report your phone as missing within five days, you should only be responsible for paying up to £500 for unauthorised usage outside of your allowance. See the Government's announcement here

Always treat your phone as carefully as you would your bank or credit cards.

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

These video guides show you how to do this on some popular handsets.


Android (ICS, Samsung Galaxy)

Android (4.2, Jelly Bean)

Windows Phone 8


There are a number of other steps you can take to keep your mobile safe and prevent against 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.
  • Consider barring calls to international and premium rate numbers to limit the usefulness of your phone to thieves.
  • Some mobile insurance policies may provide some cover for unauthorised use so it is worth checking the terms and conditions of your existing policy, or when considering a new policy.
  • You can download an app which can trace your phone if it is lost/stolen and can enable you to wipe details from it remotely - such as findmyiphone and Android device manager.
  • 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 on keeping your smartphone secure and the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit are also useful sources of advice on how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of phone crime.

What if your phone is stolen?

  • Contact your provider as soon as possible, try to do this within 24 hours.
  • Your provider can then bar your SIM to stop calls being made on your account. Your provider can also stop anyone else from using your phone by blocking its IMEI.
  • Remember, if you have mobile phone insurance, you may need to let them know within a certain time frame too.
  • If findmyiphone/Android Device Manager was activated on your phone, you may be able to locate your phone and remotely erase content
ProviderDialling from the UKDialling from Abroad
3333 (Three phone)
0333 373 3333 (any other phone)
+44 7782 333 333
EE07953 966 250+44 7953 966 250
Orange07973 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 79539 66150
Vodafone03333 040191 +44 7836 191 191
Tesco Mobile4455 (Tesco Mobile phone)
0345 301 4455 (any other phone)
+44 845 3014455
Virgin Mobile789 (Virgin Media phone)
0345 6000 789 (any other phone)
+44 7953 967 967