Rating: Scare story could hinder sales of data roaming packages
Under the headline ‘Network cashing in on crime’, the British newspaper – the Sun on Sunday wrote an article which could seriously scare ordinary folk away from taking their mobile phone with them on holiday. Which could damage mobile operators’ efforts to sell custom data roaming packages to their subscribers – especially business folk. With MWC 2013 fast approaching, this story could also have implications for attendees too. The crux of the issue is that network operators continue to charge subscribers for calls made after a phone has been stolen and until the theft is reported.
As GoMobile News has previously reported, the favourite mode of operandi for phone thieves is to snatch the handset from a subscriber when they are actually talking or texting on the phone.
This method will defeat the Sun’s ‘Tip’ for protecting yourself – namely to set a password on the handset to prevent fraudulent calls being made.
According to the newspaper, a favourite ploy by handset thieves is to use stolen phones to make calls to Premium rate numbers which can cost up to £1 per minute.
Why do so? Well, the implication is that the thieves are in cahoots with the owners of certain Premium Rate Services and receive part of the revenues which the service receives.
There is a clear case, therefore, for mobile operators to liaise with the local national regulator – in the UK’s case, Ofcom and report which PRS numbers are frequently called from stolen handsets. So that the real culprits can be caught.
Now the real damage done by the Sun on Sunday article was to report a case from as long ago as September 2011.
It concerned a woman named Jane Martin from Somerset who received a telephone bill of £2,500 from Vodafone.
It appears that Jane had her SIM card stolen and was unaware of the fact. The SIM card had made its way to China.
Vodafone only eventually became aware of the fact that there was a problem because as it explained, “it can take some time for overseas operators to let us know about charges – as long as 12 weeks.”
It didn’t help that Vodafone was adamant that Ms Martin still had to pay the bill.
A Vodafone spokesperson was quoted as saying, “I’m afraid a customer is always responsible for their own mobile phone and SIM card and for any charges incurred.”
Ms Matin should have taken the Sun‘s advice, of course and protected her card with a PIN number.
Such cases show the urgency for putting real-time fraud prevention systems – such as those offered by MACH in place.
There’s also a case for travellers being able to ‘cap’ their phone’s credit when going abroad. After all, how are you going to immediately report your card stolen when you’ve lost your handset in a foreign country?