British travellers unprepared for mobile fraud


Half of Brits travelling over Easter admit they do not know the proper steps to keep their phones safe

As Britons prepare for the Easter break and around 1.6 million of us plan to travel abroad for the long weekend according to 2014 data from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), research has shown most have no idea how to protect their mobile devices.

New research from Vodafone has found that despite the constant threat from pickpockets preying on Britons enjoying their time in the sun, they are still not taking simple precautions to help protect against the effects of stolen phones.

Worryingly, over half of the respondents surveyed admitted that they would not know what to do if their phone was stolen abroad, despite saying they store laptop passwords, personal photos, bank card details and access to their business and personal email accounts on their phones. The data also showed that almost 60% of Brits will carry our phones at all times when out and about in a new country, underlining the need to protect it against pickpockets and thieves.

Furthermore, 46% of respondents admitted to keeping their phones in their pockets while travelling and over a third said they would keep their handsets in a handbag on the floor, giving thieves a prime opportunity to steal them.

Altogether, 79% would travel without valid insurance and over 81% say they would travel without knowing their IMEI number or their operator’s emergency helpline, both of which are essential information to have to help protect against the effects of a lost or stolen phone.

Mark Bond, customer operations director, Vodafone UK, said: “Our phones are so important to us, especially as we use them to share more and more of our experiences while on holiday. We are always trying to make sure our customers have the best possible experience and believe our new fraud cap will improve their experience at what can be an upsetting time.

“However, because it is very easy for criminals to rapidly build up high charges using stolen phones, we encourage customers to report phones missing as soon as they can,” Bond continued. “So if you’re planning a trip this Easter please make sure you’ve put in place some simple security measures such as: protecting your handset with a password and SIM lock; making sure you take out insurance; and keeping your IMEI number and Vodafone’s emergency contact number safe. The bottom line is if your phone is lost or stolen and you call us immediately to report it, we can close your account straightaway which will save you from any hassle on your return home.”

Vodafone’s research also found that the tourist hotspot in which visitors are most likely to have their phone stolen is Spain, a favourite for both visiting and expat Brits, which has led to a number of well known frauds such as the ‘Barcelona scam’. Over 30% of all phone thefts abroad reported to Vodafone over a seven month period took place there (Vodafone data between the period 1 July 2014 and 12 January 2015). Even though more of us visit France, based on Foreign Office estimates, only 12% of phone thefts took place across the Channel.




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