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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Fraudsters racked up £1,300 on my phone but I’m footing the bill’

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24/04/2013
A PR practitioner who misplaced his mobile phone is having to fork out £50 a month after fraudsters racked up over £1,300 worth of calls.

Richard Rigby, who works in London, did not realise that he had lost his phone for a few weeks but, when he got in touch with his provider, Orange, he found his phone had been used to make calls to Ghana and Gabon in Africa.

According to Rigby, Orange only barred his SIM card after detecting irregular usage and his bill had run over £1,300. Rigby said he had previously never called abroad.

Rigby said: “Orange confirmed to me that the firm doesn’t have the level of fraud detection in place that banks do for monitoring peculiar card usage. The company claimed to have tried to contact me, despite a complete absence of any letters or emails.

“As the loss hadn’t been reported within 24 hours, I was deemed fully responsible for covering the cost of the calls. When I finally lodged a complaint with EE’s chief executive, Orange agreed to waive 50% of the cost ‘as a gesture’ and replace the phone. I pay back £50 each month towards the cost of the calls.”

Rigby said Orange has now refused to pay out for a replacement phone for another handset he lost recently.

He said: “Exasperatingly, my new mobile was stolen in February this year and Orange refused to apply my mobile insurance. Apparently the mobile insurance I pay each month is unusable until the balance of the rogue calls to Ghana is cleared, meaning that the issues arising from Orange’s lack of fraud detection continue to plague me now.”

Despite continuing to pay off £50 a month, Orange had failed to let Rigby know that the insurance he had been sold was invalid, meaning he was paying for cover that was not effective until he paid off the total owed to Orange from the calls to Africa.

A statement from EE, Orange’s parent company said that, like bank cards, customers need to cancel and bar a SIM card as soon as they realise it has been misplaced or stolen, otherwise there is little it can do once the calls have been made.

A spokesperson added: “EE does have an allocated fraud detection service which looks into unusual activity, and we are looking into what happened with this case.”

In response to the complaint, the regulator Ofcom, said: “This issue of consumer liability is something we are looking at and we have taken this up with the Government.

“This is a serious issue and we need to look at this issue, in fairness of whether consumers should be liable or not when their phone is lost or stolen, this is definitely something on our radar.”

Ofcom has said that it is also talking to the mobile industry to encourage them to invest in ‘better monitoring systems so they can effectively respond to unusual and potentially unauthorised use of their customers’ phones’. 

 

Update – EE has now allowed Rigby to get a new phone in line with the insurance he had taken out last year.

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