It is perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to you in the modern world – having your smartphone or mobile stolen.
Given the fact that we use these devices for everything and that it holds a lot of personal information, if it is taken from us by a criminal, we are left feeling truly ill at ease.
Beyond the loss, there is a lot of hassle in having your smartphone stolen – it has to be reported to the police, the network provider has to be informed and, well, bills have to be paid.
The last point in particular can be a devastating experience – fraudsters can quickly rack up extortionate costs leaving you in a very tricky situation.
However, that is set to change. As of last month, five major mobile operators have signed up to a new measure that will cap phone bills on stolen devices.
EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone say they back the £100 “liability cap”, which means victims of a smartphone theft will not be charged further beyond this point.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) welcomed the announcement in March, explaining that it will bring “much-needed relief” to people.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of the CAB, said at the time that victims of “phone crime” should not have to foot the bill “run up by thieves”.
“A cap on bills from stolen mobile phones will come as much-needed relief to consumers targeted by phone fraudsters.
“Citizens Advice has been calling for a cap to be put in place after helping consumers landed with bills as high as £23,000.
“We will be keeping a close eye on the phone providers’ caps to see if they do really protect phone crime victims from the worst bills.”
Last month, the CAB released a report entitled Calling the Shots, which investigated “opportunities for more assertive consumer protection in the mobile phone market”.
It noted how the device has evolved from being a niche product to something that is now a vital part of everyday life.
For example, a massive 95 per cent of households in the UK have a mobile phone, with 99 per cent of young adults now owning such a device.
While the market is “functioning well” – there has been a drop in prices and innovation is “booming” – there are still problems to overcome.
It notes that in 2014, over 21,500 consumers came to the CAB for advice on mobile-related problems. There are clearly problems that need to be addressed.
There are four key issues. These are to do with faulty phones, standards of service and contract exit terms, misleading sales practices and billing disputes.