Regrettably, the theft of mobile phones is increasing with the rise in mobile phone usage in Australia. So what steps can you take to minimise the risk and inconvenience of having your mobile phone stolen?
The first step can be taken when you buy your mobile phone. Always ensure that you understand your contractual obligations if the phone is stolen. For example, if you signed a two year minimum term contract, you may be required to pay access charges for the remainder of the two years, even though you no longer have your mobile phone.
You may also choose to take out insurance to cover the theft of your mobile phone. You can enquire with your insurance company or your mobile phone supplier as to whether they offer insurance coverage for the theft of your phone. Again, make sure that you understand exactly what is covered by the insurance.
A feature of digital mobile phones is a removable Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. This SIM card identifies the account holder, in contrast to the mobile handset itself. When a phone is stolen, an unauthorised user may make fraudulent use of it in several ways, including, quickly making calls on the phone before you have had time to report it stolen or, exchanging the SIM card.
Many makes of mobile phones have security features built in by the manufacturer. You should consult your user handbook for information on these features. If your mobile phone has such features as, for example, a Personal Identification Number (PIN) lock, you may wish to consider using it to disable the phone which may prevent an unauthorised user from making calls.
Every digital mobile phone also has a unique International Mobile Equipment Identification (IMEI) number which is like an electronic "fingerprint" for the mobile handset itself. To find out what the IMEI for your phone is, dial *#06#. You should record the identification details for your phone.
When carrying a mobile phone, take the same care that you would with a credit card or any other valuable item. Do not leave the mobile phone unattended in a car or handbag and try to keep it on your person, rather than lying on a restaurant table or shop counter.
If your mobile phone is stolen, you should immediately report the theft to your mobile phone company, so that any future calls are not billed to your account. You should also report the theft to the police. Supplying your IMEI to your mobile phone company and to the police may assist in the recovery and identification of your mobile phone.
The ACMA has a range of information for consumers on telecommunications matters available on our website.