Lost your phone or had it stolen? We're here to make a bad situation better. Here's all the info you need on what to do next...

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Losing your phone, or having it stolen, can be really stressful, which is why we want to make sure that everything afterwards is as smooth, quick and stress-free as possible. To make sure that’s the case, we’ve made the process of reporting and blocking a missing phone faster and easier than ever before.

To explain what’s new, and exactly what you should do it you if you ever lose your phone, we’ve been speaking to our own Wendy Steadman. Read on for some invaluable advice…

Easy come, easy go, easily blocked

Wendy wastes no time in explaining the first thing that Vodafone customers should do if they lose their handset:

“Customers should get in touch with Vodafone straight away so the SIM card can be barred,” she says. “This will make sure that no-one can make calls, send texts or use the data using your number. If you think the phone is just lost, rather than stolen, you needn’t worry: only the SIM is barred and not the device itself; we always check to make 100% sure the phone hasn’t been stolen before proceeding.

“If it is stolen, we will have the device blacklisted, which will make sure that no-one can make calls, send texts or use the data on it. Each phone has a unique identifying code – it’s called an IMEI – and our blacklisting means a phone can’t be used on mobile networks, even if a different SIM is put in it.”

 

 

 

Getting in touch is easy. To make that first step, all you need to do is call 03333040191 from a landline or, if someone else lends you their Vodafone mobile, dial 191. If you’re abroad it’s +447836191191. “You can also go online and use MyAccount or Webchat to help bar the SIM,” Wendy adds. ”If the phone is stolen then you should also report this to the Police so that a crime reference number can be provided. This way, if the handset turns up – and they often do – the police can get in touch with you and get it returned.”

So far so simple, but, as Wendy explains, that’s all by design: “The customer experience has been improved greatly over the last 12 – 18 months,” she tells us. Customers are liable for any call charges up until they call in to report it stolen, so we’ve rapidly increased the blacklisting and un-blacklisting process to within 15 minutes.

“That’s amazing compared to the 24hrs that it used to be, and means that the customer can now have their handset blacklisted almost instantly, stopping anyone using the device and reducing the chance of thieves selling the handset on.”

Acting fast

So what’s going on in the background? Whenever we get a call about a stolen phone, we act fast, kicking off a chain of events that involves our own hardware, other networks and the police:

“When we get a report, our customer service team will bar the SIM card from the network,” Wendy explains, “disabling it immediately from making calls and sending texts. But handsets take a little longer to blacklist.”

“It’s vital that customers report their handset as stolen as soon as possible.”

That’s because the missing phone’s IMEI number and info is sent to a global hub of handset data known as the EIR (Equipment Identity Register), and this is updated every 15 minutes. The information then goes onto another big database: the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)…

“The information of every IMEI that has been blacklisted that day is shared with the CEIR every evening,” Wendy says. “This allows our handsets to be disabled across all networks, not just Vodafone, and it also updates the Police register (NMPR), which means that if anyone was to be stopped while carrying that device, they could be arrested.”

“For many reasons,” Wendy says, “it’s vital that customers report their handset as stolen to us as soon as possible.” But there’s a lot more you can do while you still have your phone on you…

Top tips for protecting your phone and keeping your details safe

1. Pin lock your phone with a good secure pin. If you have a figure print or pattern lock, use that as well.

2. Back up your phone regularly. This way your photos, contacts and those important levels on Candy Crush will be saved. You can then transfer everything to a new device if yours gets stolen.

3. You can also SIM lock your phone so only your SIM can be used in the device.

4. Download a ‘find my phone’ type app from your phone’s app store. This is a great way to locate your handset, and also gives you the option to lock and wipe it if it gets lost or stolen.

5. Register your phone on immobilise.com. It’s a Police-registered website that stores your details, and if your lost phone is ever found they will contact you.

6. Write down all the relevant Vodafone contact numbers and your phone’s IMEI if you’re going abroad. You can find the IMEI by typing in *#06# into your phone.

More info… For more on keeping your phone safe, or how to act when it gets lost, click here. You can also read up on Vodafone insurance here.