Operators and government to tackle ‘bill shock’

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The government wants operators to limit people’s liability for mobile usage made from stolen phones, and notify users when they are approaching the end of their allowances

The UK government has set out plans to tackle incidences of bill shock, saying it is concerned consumers are held liable for mobile usage when their phone is stolen.

In a report published today entitled ‘Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth’, the government said it will work with mobile operators to establish a ‘code of practice’.

The code will include limiting people’s liability for costs of calls made from stolen phones.

Measures could include the introduction on monitoring processes to detect unusual use patterns.

The government said this will bring the mobile industry into better line with others, such as the financial sector where credit and debit card customers are protected by a statutory £50 liability cap as soon as the card is used illegitimately.

It also noted that many mobile insurance policies either do not offer protection against unauthorised use, or provide only limited cover.

The paper said other causes of bill shock, including exceeding contracted call or data allowances, and unintentional ‘in app’ purchases, will also be addressed by the code.

The government said it will “encourage” mobile operators to introduce text alerts to advise customers when they approach their call limit and notification of the costs of making further calls.

It said: “We will work with the mobile operators to establish a code of practice which will ensure that industry plays a greater role in introducing instances of ‘bill shock’.”

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