Someone Stole Your Tmobile Phone Now You Have To Pay $1500

Tricia asks:

Tmobile is not budging regarding $1500 dollars worth of charges on a SIM card that was stolen from my lost phone and put into another device. Its so obvious the phone was stolen, my bill is typically $40 a month, the person took someone out of my “Fave 5” and put in someone named Mostofo. I called Mostofo who said he wants to help “find the criminal” but Tmobile says they don’t really care about the fact that it was stolen, that I owe the total amount regardless. Super annoying! Anything I can do? I get that Tmobile says, until I officially report it stolen I’m responsible for the charges, I just think that’s ridiculous when its SO obvious the charges aren’t mine.

That’s a tough one, that is most cellphone company’s policy. The only thing we can suggest is raising a ruckus with this contact information in these posts, “Email Tmobile Executive Customer Service” and “Contact Tmobile Executive Customer Service. Maybe they will go halfsies on it. Or you could move to California and become an AT&T customer. Until the laws change, cellphone companies will continue to make a profit on calls made by thieves and unauthorized users, at your expense. Credit card companies have fraud detection and mechanisms, how about some for cellphones?

(Photo: JasonJT)


Edit Your Comment

  1. skittlbrau says:

    This happened to my husband (luckily caught after only $300 or so in damage was done) and he managed to get half the bill waived.

    He got the employee to admit that he knew my husband didn’t make the calls, and pointed out its illegal for a company to profit off of fraud. I’m not sure how sound his argument was, but it saved us $150.

  2. chemmy says:

    Did you cancel the whole thing? When I was on TMo, my phone was also stolen so I called to cancel my account on that phone and to cancel the SIM card.

    Both were cancelled and while I never saw my phone again, I never got billed for any additional charges.

    In fact, I bought the exact same phone, faxed the receipt to TMo and got them to credit my account for that amount that I paid for the replacement phone.


    Took a while to get them to credit me (but the customer service rep said they would so I held them to it)

    Bet I could never get that to happen again. (This was a $400 phone back when the color screens were the new big thing)

  3. MDSasquatch says:

    You never reported it stolen? I have to agree with T-Mobile on this one; past performance does not guarantee current usage levels.

    Sounds to me like someone lent out their phone or SIM card and is now having second thoughts.

    Pay the bill loser

  4. JustAGuy2 says:

    It’s SO obvious the charges aren’t yours? How exactly is TMobile supposed to know that if you didn’t TELL THEM THE PHONE WAS STOLEN?

  5. emjsea says:

    so, omg! It’s sooo obvious you should file a police report and report it stolen.

  6. creamsissle says:

    Given that there is a clear record of numbers dialed, and thus a lead for an investigation, I’m surprised that they don’t bother to research reports of fraud.

  7. Bladefist says:

    we have color screens now?

  8. snazz says:

    seems that you have the phone numbers the thief called… report those to the police and see what they can do to find the criminal.

  9. Bladefist says:

    if they said to report it stolen, then duh, report it stolen. it takes 5 mins and you can do it over the phone. That little piece of paper can save you a ton of money. If you are unwilling to report it, then I side w/ Tmobile.

  10. johnnyboi1016 says:


    Cost effectiveness. Only the big fish get chased…

  11. MickeyMoo says:

    My TMO phone was stolen about 2 years ago (called it in and only one local call had been made) But TMO refused to check who was using it by way of the IMEI number (which doesn’t change even if you swap SIM cards) without a court order – very consumer unfriendly IMHO

  12. darkened says:

    @snazz: I agree, the fact the theif racked up $1500 in charges, I believe will bring this into a felony theft of service level crime which actually might even be federal. So potentially you might wish to report this to the FBI also.

  13. Nate425 says:

    Wait, you haven’t reported it stolen and you’re complaining? Good luck with that.

    When you actually do get around to reporting it stolen and they still refuse to credit you, then you have a case.

  14. m0unds says:

    seems a bit late to report it stolen now..heh

  15. PinkBox says:

    So what is the problem in reporting it as stolen when, OMGOSH, it was stolen? :P

  16. TheUncleBob says:

    I have to side with TMobile on this one.
    Once a customer has the Cell Phone, TMobile has absolutely *no* way of protecting that phone/SIM from theft or unauthorized usage (without hindering the customer, of course). It is 100% up to the customer to protect the equipment.

    Why should TMobile foot the bill for network usage because *you* failed to do so?

    Had the customer promptly reported the equipment stolen, then TMobile could have deactivated the Phone/SIM/Account (as needed) to protect both you and them. Because the customer did not, they expect TMobile (and thus, the rest of TMobile’s customers) to eat $1,500?

  17. Tallanvor says:

    Yeah, the customer should have notified T-Mobile that it was stolen immediately, and should have filed a police report as well.

    If the customer is not willing to file a police report, that should raise a red flag in anyone’s book.

  18. Buran says:

    I’m gonna offer some advice here that I hope will help in the future — a bit of preventive maintenance.

    Set your phone to require a code be typed in after a certain amount of inactivity or when you want to unlock the keypad, whatever your phone supports. Set it to a reasonably short interval if it’s a time lock, like the iphone I use, but not so short that you are constantly having to unlock the phone to do things with it. My phone has choices of 1, 5, 15 min, 1 hour, and 4 hours. I have it on 15 minutes right now; you don’t need to type in the code to change the currently-playing track in iTunes or answer an incoming call. This way if you’ve been walking down the street and someone snatches your phone, it’s probably codelocked even if you were listening to music or something similar. This way if the thief tries to call out, they won’t be able to guess the code, and if the thief hard resets the phone to try to get around the lock, the iPhone at least will request the code when it comes back up.

    Also lock your SIM. This is different from the passcode lock in the phone itself and prevents the SIM from being used even if it’s put in another device — that device too will prompt for the code. You must enter this passcode when you start up the phone but at no other time. You also have to enter it to, say, take the SIM to a store to clone it to a new one if your SIM is out of date, so a thief can’t just clone the contents to a new card. You’ll get some kind of dialog — I get “SIM locked. OK/Unlock” and if you hit OK there’s no service and if you hit Unlock you’re presented with the keypad to enter the code. You get three tries and if you miss all three the SIM hard-locks so that you have to get an unlock code, unique to your SIM, from your cell provider to unlock it. This is standard to all SIM cards, not just the iPhone.

    CHANGE THE DEFAULT SIM PASSCODE. For AT&T it’s 1111. It’s different for T-Mobile.

  19. The Porkchop Express says:

    @TheUncleBob: Thank you.
    Personal responsibility anyone? I know, not his fault it was stolen (maybe). but it is his fault that he didn’t report it stolen ASAP to protect himself really.

    Not that a cell phone usually leads to a crime but pretend it could, you’d be in a lot worse shape if it had and the phone lead the cops or feds to your door…kinda like a gun could.

    you: but it was stolen
    them: why didn’t you report it?
    you: uh, I dunno.
    them: thank you, book ’em.

    I know that’s blowing it out of proportion a bit. but it could happen if they called somebody that was being wathced and tapped with your, technically not stolen since it wasn’t reported, phone.

  20. MaelstromRider says:

    If you didn’t report it as stolen when it was stolen, then you’re an idiot. How is T-Mobile to know that you’re not trying to scam them?

  21. rjhiggins says:

    @MDSasquatch: Guys, I think you’re misreading her letter. She *has* reported it stolen now; T-Mobile is referring to the time *before* she reported it.

    Seek first to understand before you beat people up.

  22. skittlbrau says:

    @rjhiggins: T Mobile’s contract is pretty ironclad, in that you are responsible for charges until the second you report it missing.

    My question to the poster is: how long before you realized your phone was missing did you take to report it stolen?

  23. john42 says:

    Doesn’t take much to report it stolen to the police. Just give your local non-emergency phone number a call.

  24. Bladefist says:

    @rjhiggins: Your missing the point, there shouldn’t be anytime between stolen and reporting. Hey look my phone is gone, then you dial Tmobile. Thats it. 1500$ is a lot of money…that means there was a big time period between reporting and being stolen.

  25. Mr_Human says:

    I reread the post, but I don’t see where she said she reported it stolen at any time.

  26. JustAGuy2 says:


    That’s how I read it too, but I’m still baffled by her behavior. How could she believe that T-Mobile would say “well, now that you’ve told us it was stolen, way after the fact, we’ll take all these charges off the account?”

    If T-Mobile actually did business that way, there would be a lot of people racking up huge bills and then calling in to say their phones were “stolen” a month ago.

  27. Xay says:

    Why didn’t you report the phone stolen as soon as it happened? I don’t think that any cell phone company will help you without evidence that you reported the theft and filed a police report.

  28. gamehendge2000 says:

    too bad you didn’t sign up for the unlimited plan

  29. October.Revolution says:

    The Lost/Stolen Policy at T-Mobile is very very simple. SInce you have the ability to lock your handset and or SIM card you must report the missing handset to T-Mobile right away or we hold you responsible for any usage on the handset up until you do. This is because you failed to implement any of the security methods we provide you with.

    I work in one of their call centers, and you don’t know how many times I get some soccer mom call in a month after their kid’s phone was stolen at school to contest a super high bill. But because she didn’t call us right away all the charges are valid.

    Now there is one exception to this rule. If you live in California you just have to tell us the approximate date and time the phone was lost/stolen and we will start a fraud investigation. The difference is due to some Wireless Bill of Rights there.

    So remember, report your phone right away, even if you think it’s in your car, and always always always enable the SIM PIN and change it from the default(1234).

  30. ? graffiksguru says:

    Blame the consumer in 3… 2… 1…
    Oh wait, it really is her fault, like everyone says “she should have reported it stolen (alot sooner)”

  31. whatdoyoucare says:

    @JustAGuy2: Exactly!

  32. Coelacanth says:

    How about all those situations where a preson realises their phone is missing, but really they may have just left it in the office, or at a friend’s house, and not necessarily stolen.

    It may take a day from the point to figuring out a phone is missing, versus stolen.

    There should be a grace period, perhaps 48 hours, to report a stolen phone with minimal financial liability for the consumer for fradulent charges.

    It’s easy to notice a stolen phone if somebody’s held up. In most other situations, it’s rather tricky.

    A reasonable person shouldn’t be on the hook for several hundred dollars worth of fradulent charges for merely ‘double-checking’ the phone was actually lost/stolen.

  33. yesteryear says:

    my tmobile phone was stolen last year and luckily i reported it within a couple hours.

    while i was on the line with tmobile reporting the stolen phone, i logged onto the website and printed the numbers the thief had called on my phone before i shut it off (there were only about 5)… then i proceeded to send out about 10 bulletins on myspace with these phone numbers, i announced them on the air on my radio show, and i even called them live on the air and told the stupid teenagers who answered i was calling from tmobile’s loss department and that the phone had a GPS tracking device. the best part was when i called the kids on the air they all said “why do i keep getting all of these calls from people telling me my friend is going to jail?”. they were really scared! ha!

    i had my friends call and tell them that until they convinced their criminal buddy to turn the phone in to the police dept (i’d also filed a police report) they would be getting multiple calls each day.

    all fun aside, i still had to pay the insurance deductible to get my phone replaced… and tmobile’s policy states that you are responsible until you report it stolen. so this person is not getting any of those charges reversed. the only thing to do now is have fun with the numbers. i suggest posting them here – i’ll call right now.

  34. eelmonger says:

    @MickeyMoo: They won’t give you that information because they don’t want to be responsible if you decide to enact some vigilante justice on the thief.

  35. SuperJdynamite says:

    @TheUncleBob: “Why should TMobile foot the bill for network usage because *you* failed to do so?”

    Because the service wasn’t rendered to the phone’s owner, it was rendered to the thief. T-Mobile just wants to stick it to the phone’s owner because they already have her billing information.

    You can’t bill a person for goods purchased and services rendered to somebody else. Credit card companies recognize this — I don’t see why phones should be any different.

  36. the-wanderer says:

    @COELACANTH: If you call up Tmo and say “Hey, I think I lost/had my phone stolen, but I’m not sure..” then they can put a lock on your account. If you find the phone that you’re calling about, they can unlock it.

    Pay the $1500. You should have called it in the SECOND you realized “Hey, maybe it’s missing..”

    You can log onto anytime and see what numbers have been dialed. If you think you’ve misplaced it, watch that page, and if new calls show up.. Call.

    Sorry, ZERO sympathy here. Idiot..

  37. eelmonger says:

    @SuperJdynamite: According to their contract, you’re still on the hook. If you can find the thief, you can sue them and get the money back. It isn’t TMobile’s fault your phone was stolen, why should they suffer?

  38. yesteryear says:

    @eelmonger: uhh… like what i did? if i’d had the address of the shit head who stole the phone i would have given that out on the radio, too. and actually, the tmobile rep who helped me turn the phone off suggested i print those numbers before the account records were frozen…

    knowing some idiot has access to all of your numbers, pictures, text messages, music… it’s really an awful feeling. i am getting angry all over again just thinking about this.

  39. savvy999 says:

    @yesteryear: nicely done!

    As far as general cellphone liability protection goes, I cannot imagine any scenario other than the one that exists now, that would not get abused to no end by scammers & cheapskates.

  40. viqas says:


    If i ever felt that i am missing my phone and i dont know where it is, i would check the minutes and text messages on the providers website. verizon’s my accounts does states when the phone was last used. If you didnt use it at that time then its probably being used by an unauthorized folk and may be stolen.

    Im always on top of my account, but the post does not seem clear if the person’s sim card got cloned or if his sim card got stolen. If his sim got cloned then that would be a tough situation.

  41. Mr. Gunn says:

    This is a bad policy, and I’ll tell you why: Unless you’re held up at gunpoint, you never know exactly when you lost your phone.

    You could have left it at your friend’s house, or it could have fallen behind something somewhere, or any number of scenarios. It takes a while to retrace your steps and you’re never sure it’s actually gone for a couple days. No one’s going to report their phone stolen the instant they can’t find it, and to do so would be filing a false report in the majority of cases. Most people take a certain amount of time, usually a couple days, hoping it’ll turn up.

    You should have at least 96 hours to report it stolen, and should not be responsible for any usage in that time. If you let it go for a week or more, then yeah, you’re being stupid.

    This policy works for credit cards, and it’ll work for phones. They’re apparently just waiting to be forced to do so.

  42. braindesign says:

    @Bladefist: how can he call them to report his phone stolen if his phone has been stolen?

  43. Mr. Gunn says:

    @viqas: Yeah, people should check this sort of thing, but no one should be expected to monitor their account daily.

    The bottom line is that T-mobile didn’t incur $1500 worth of expenses for the usage, so they shouldn’t be trying to recoup that whole amount. Recoup your costs, sure, but trying to profit from this is just lame, and will probably cost them more in loss of goodwill than they’d make from this one incident.

    Then again, I don’t know how much goodwill they’ve got left to lose.

  44. TheUncleBob says:

    @SuperJdynamite: So, your belief is that TMobile and responsible TMobile customers should have to eat the cost for customers who fail to report their phone/SIM stolen in a timely manner, fail to be responsible with their phone/SIM, or fail to even put a password lock on the SIM and keep it to themselves?

    I’m sorry, but I *cannot* agree with that.

    If you go to the bank, cash a check, put the money in your wallet and leave it out on the table, and someone steals your wallet, should you be allowed to go *back* to the bank and re-cash your check?

    I’m tired of this “Blame everyone else but me and make the big, bad companies eat my mistakes” consumerism.

    When a customer signs a legal contract that they agree to pay for charges to an account up until the time they report the phone/SIM stolen, then that customer has a responsibility to make sure their equipment isn’t stolen and, if it is, to report it ASAP.

  45. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Mr. Gunn:

    Then call and say “hi, I may have lost my phone, what do I do?”

    They’ll put a lock on your account, so the phone can’t make calls, and you can then search for it at your leisure.

  46. marsneedsrabbits says:

    What is preventing you from filing as they asked? Its a small thing that takes a few minutes.

  47. failurate says:

    Snitches get Stitches.

  48. the-wanderer says:

    @braindesign: Maybe find a payphone, a landline, or the nearest store that sells pre-paid tmobile cell phones. You know, like Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens.. You know, those obscure, hard to find stores..

    Bottom line: If you think it’s missing, call and report it missing. If you find it, you can call FROM THE SAME, now locked out phone and have it turned back on.

    ZERO excuse for not reporting it missing/stolen.

  49. Bladefist says:

    @braindesign: lol dammit.

    you win.

  50. davidc says:

    @SuperJdynamite: Because the service wasn’t rendered to the phone’s owner, it was rendered to the thief.

    No … it was rendered to the “phone”. TMobile is not responsible for who uses the phone.

    By your definition, you could have the phone to a friend, and the owner of the phone would not be responsible for the calls, since they were not rendered to the phone owner.

    That’s not how it works. You are RESPONSIBLE for the device and all charges revolving the use of said device, whether that use benefits you directly or not.

  51. tortcat says:

    Until its reported stolen I would say Tmobile is correct. Now once its been reported and you have the police report..thats a differnt story and Im sure Tmobile will work with you at that point! :)

  52. lqz says:

    Currently only if your billing address is in the state of California t-mo can remove the unauthorized use/charges. It states on tmobile “streamline” which has all procedures and policies.
    i think for lost/stolen handset its… suspend line, inform cust of any overage/toll/downloads they are responsible, if they have asurion offer, if they dont offer upgrade (2 year contract renew)… and so on…

  53. uberbucket says:

    “Super annoying!” indeed.

    I’ll have to side with the rest of the individuals who appear to possess what is often referred to as “common sense”. No excuse for not reporting it lost/stolen in a timely matter.

  54. davidc says:

    @Mr. Gunn: ou should have at least 96 hours to report it stolen.

    Not at all. Your irresponsibility isn’t anybodies fault but your own.

    If you can’t be responsible to know where you phone is at all times, then don’t sign a contract saying you will be responsible for it at all times.

    Owning a cell phone is not a *right*, it’s a privilege and as such you need to be responsible. If you can’t be responsible, don’t sign a contract saying you will.

    Just buy prepaid phones where your exposure to risk is minimal. Might cost you more, but that is what you “pay” for not being responsible.

  55. joeblevins says:

    This would be a good stupid consumer story for Ben.

  56. Moosehawk says:

    omglolwtfobviuslynoobduh like tottally whatever

  57. barfoo says:

    To the folks who somehow think T-Mobile should let people off the hook for unauthorized usage, without a police report: how would this be different from a landline? Consider what the phone company would say if you called and said, “Someone may have wandered into my house and made a five hour call to Angola, but I didn’t authorize it so please take it off my bill.” If you were the victim of a home invasion and had a police report of that, maybe they’d cut you a deal. But otherwise?

  58. darkened says:

    Wow once again I’m amazed at how many people want to blame the consumer, by everyone that wishes to blame the consumer I hope you waive your entitlements to fraud prevention for your credit cards the same way you so merrily waive away the OP’s with their cell phone.

    The argument that tmobile has no way to figure out it was stolen is laughable. Credit companies do easily when a card is used in a very strange way from the rest of the habits of a user. For a cell phone user that uses nothing other than their plans usage of $40/month to suddenly reach $100 that month and go beyond. It’s reckless on T-mobiles end and they should be liable for not shutting off the phone pending a fraud investigation the same way a credit card company does by verifying the charges being made against his phone were indeed made by the OP.

  59. mistaketv says:

    Not adjusting this bill would essentially be highly punitive to the customer. It’s not as if the service provided was actually worth $1500 at market value. So what many of you are essentially saying is this customer deserves to be punished for having her phone stolen and not reporting it quickly enough. And this position somehow satisfies the principles of fairness and personal responsibility in your minds?

    In other words, you’re kinda dicks.

  60. darkened says:

    @barfoo: By that very same argument I would hope your credit card would be used without your authorization and they force you to pay it just like Tmobile is attempting to do with the OP.

  61. AD8BC says:

    @Buran: Thanks Buran, I’ll do this to my wife’s phone as soon as I get home! I’m not used to having SIM cards, having recently migrated to AT&T from Verizon.

  62. Difdi says:

    This happened to me once. I had been carrying my cellphone zipped into a backpack, with a bluetooth headset. I don’t make or receive many calls, typically using less than 30 minutes a month. Somehow, a pickpocket managed to open my pack, steal my phone, and zip it shut again without me noticing. I assumed I had somehow forgotten to pack my phone that day, since, honestly, how many people will ever meet a pickpocket *that* skilled?

    My previous calling pattern was an average of 22 minutes monthly, on a 400 minute per month family plan, all of it to people within the continental US.

    So while I’m searching my house, my mother’s house, calling the phone to see if it rings in my house (it didn’t), someone has started making multiple-hour long calls to Nigeria on it. For some reason, this did not raise any red flags at T-Mobile.

    My mother finally had the idea to check the call history, to see if it had been used since I last saw it. That’s when the calls to Nigeria came to light. We immediately reported the phone stolen, but it took T-Mobile several more days to freeze the account. They claimed to see *no* unusual calling pattern, so therefore I was on the hook for all of the over-plan minutes and international charges. Including the 3 days it took them to turn off the phone after the theft report.

    Arguing with them got them to take those 3 days of calls off the bill, but they insisted that the time I spent looking for my misplaced phone was still billable, since I had not yet reported the phone stolen (due to the hassle of trying to get a reported-stolen phone reactivated if it turned out it was just misplaced).

    This went on for several months and a couple dozen calls to T-Mobile. But it was only *after* I contacted my family’s lawyer and state attorney general’s office, canceled the plan, and eliminated eating out, most new clothes and cellphones from my budget for the next five years (in order to make payments on the bill), that my mother got a call from executive customer service, to let me know that the calling pattern indeed was suspicious, and they had decided to waive the $2300 phone bill, “just this once”.

    Then there was all the problems of salespeople in the phone store lying to me and my mother (different salea people, different visits) about what phone I could get as a replacement, what service plan I could get, refusing to un-cancel the old service plan, insisting we had to buy a newer, more expensive plan instead (another call to executive customer service got us our old plan back), and so on…well, odds are we’ll be talking to the AG as a first step, on our next billing dispute with T-Mobile, due to their total lack of good faith in the past, and we now pay our cellphone bills with credit cards.

  63. The Porkchop Express says:

    @darkened: the contracts are different dude. Your CC company promises this protection to you. Tmobile does not.
    Not the same thing as CC, please recognize that fact. Applles to oranges due to contract and service differences.

  64. vladthepaler says:

    It is not obvious that the calls are not yours. Maybe you got a new friend and decided to call him a lot. Hardly implausible. When your phone is stolen, you should report it as stolen. Sounds like a very reasonable policy on the company’s part.

  65. Ben Popken says:

    Credit card companies provide protection from fraud, because the law forces them to. I see no reason why we can’t do the same for cellphones.

  66. dweebster says:

    @rjhiggins: “until I officially report it stolen I’m responsible for the charges, I just think that’s ridiculous when its SO obvious the charges aren’t mine.”

    Sorry, but how long did it take you to realize your phone was stolen, and how long were you out of the range of another telephone to call them? $1500 is a lot of coin.

    I think it’s unreasonable (and entirely frightening) to expect the cell phone companies to be able to detect whether your phone is calling “friend or foe.” With all the OTHER spying they’re busy doing, it’s a pretty unreasonable demand to have fraud protection similar to credit cards. You could have had some reasons to make a ton of calls, or you loaned the phone out, etc.

    Now, it would make sense that they have a robot call your phone once you have exceeded your calling minutes by a certain amount and make you verify that indeed you are you (punch in last four of SS#) – that would be due diligence on THEIR part. The fact they have open-ended “credit” like this is a setup for problems just as described.

    However, you still need to report your phone stolen IMMEDIATELY and not after receiving your bill…

  67. Anticitizen says:

    I don’t know why, but the way the OP is worded, I’m having a hard time believing this person took prompt action on his phone.

    Also, TM is not responsible for knowing weather said charges are “obvious” or not. If they did, they’d likely be stepping on your toes whenever you travelled anywhere.

    My two cents…

  68. AMetamorphosis says:

    I really have no sympathy for you.

    If the phone is question was truley stolen you wouldn’t have a problem making a police report.

    I HAD a phone stolen and PROMPTLY reported it as such. The thief DID use the phone and the phone company was able to trace the calls that this thief made. As a result, the phone company followed up on it and I was not stuck with an erroneous bill.

    Grow a set and take responsiblity for your possessions.

  69. modenastradale says:

    I agree completely that you should report the phone stolen as soon as you realize it. But, with that said, cell phone companies really aren’t justified in charging you the full price of calls made in the interim.

    Cell phone minutes hardly cost the providers anything. They’re just an arbitrary, profitable way to sell a service to consumers. That is why you’re able to talk for 85 hours on “weekend minutes” for free. Do you think AT&T’s cost structure varies so wildly between weekend and weekday? Or do you think that they’re somehow absorbing some significant portion fo $2,295 in costs (assuming the standard 45-cent overage rate) as a loss leader? I assure you, they’re not!

    Since providers incur very little actual costs when a thief racks up $1,500 in “charges,” I believe it is unjustified and even immoral to try to bilk the accountholder for anything close to that amount.

  70. redrover189 says:

    @darkened: You claim that because this young woman’s cell phone activity was showing calls in an area different than “normal” and for a duration much longer than “normal”, her phone should have been deactivated and her account flagged for fraud.

    How frustrating it would have been for her if:
    -a friend or family member in another city or state had a medical emergency and and this young woman was trying to contact her family and check out their status?
    -she had planned a trip to another city or state for work purposes – she used the phone often to contact clients or customers
    -As some people have already mentioned, she made a new friend or started a long-distance romantic relationship, leading to her spending much more time on the phone and/or spending more time calling from different areas (if she visited that individual)

    The bottom line is, she needed to take personal responsiblity for her actions. I’m a bit of a type A person, so maybe I’m unique in this fact, but if I ever misplace my wallet or cell phone, I am absolutely on pins and needles until I find it. Plus, her cell phone contract does not cover her in the way a credit card contract would – she is responsible for all usage up til she filed the police report. I don’t see what’s so strange about that.

    I agree that it would be *nice* and extremely generous for her cell provider to perhaps charge her only the market value of the resources used, but why should they? They don’t have to, although it would be a great consumer satisfaction plug for them.

  71. tmobcsr says:

    @Difdi: “…since I had not yet reported the phone stolen (due to the hassle of trying to get a reported-stolen phone reactivated if it turned out it was just misplaced).”

    You: Hi, this is Difdi. I found my phone, and would like to reactivate it please.

    Me: That’s great news Difdi, and since you already entered your account information, I can reactivate that line in our system immediately, and your device itself will be resumed to service within the next two hours. Congratulations on finding it! That’ll save you some money! Maybe you should buy a lotto ticket today! Anything else I can help you with?

    You: Nope, that is all.

    Me: Thanks for choosing T-Mobile Difdi, have a great evening.

    Yup. Sure sounds like a hassle to me.

  72. says:

    I’m mildly weirded out by calling a $1500 bill due to theft and corporate stubbornness “super annoying”. Like, wow.

    @Buran: thanks for that tip about locking the SIM card, never knew that was possible :)

  73. wesrubix says:

    @MDSasquatch: exactly! Why didn’t the gord report his sim card stolen in the first place?

  74. krunk4ever says:

    Maybe it’s time that similar policies that credit cards are required to follow be pushed to the cell phone services. If you think about it, your cell phone service is very similar to a credit card, where you’re allowed to make purchases off it just by having a cell phone and dialing some numbers.

    A limit of $50 maximum per fraud case and actually alerting users when they believe they detect fraud would be an excellent requirement.

  75. ARPRINCE says:

    Your phone got stolen and didn’t even do anything about it until you got tagged with a $1500 bill – LOL. Are you blond?

  76. picshereplz says:


    Let’s bust out the “stupid consumer” tag please!

  77. Buran says: The keypad lock feature isn’t in all phones (isn’t part of the standard) so that may vary. I believe the SIM locking is part of the GSM standard and every GSM phone I’ve had does it, but I don’t know the technical term for doing that so I’m finding lots of articles on how to modify phones so they’ll take a SIM from any provider, but not much about the actual keycode-locking feature.

  78. KogeLiz says:

    sometimes i wonder if the Consumerist Editors throw in things that are ‘so ridiculous that it’s funny’

  79. SuperJdynamite says:

    @eelmonger: “It isn’t TMobile’s fault your phone was stolen, why should they suffer?”

    It isn’t your fault your phone was stolen. Why should you suffer?

  80. SuperJdynamite says:

    @TheUncleBob: “So, your belief is that TMobile and responsible TMobile customers should have to eat the cost for customers who fail to report their phone/SIM stolen in a timely manner…”


    It’s my understanding that T-Mobile has a policy where the customer is responsible for ALL charges, even if the phone is stolen. I believe that if a theft of service (either by stealing the phone or by cloning/misrepresenting a device on the T-Mobile network) is reported in a timely manner then the customer shouldn’t be responsible for the charges.

  81. MrEvil says:

    The customer should have called TMO the second her phone was missing. All it would have taken to get the phone reactivated was a quick call to let them know she had found her phone. Yes it wastes time, but with my personal phone if I can’t find it in 12 hours I’m dialing the phone company to have it temporarily deactivated.

    One thing I do like about Sprint though, they carried over the Account passwords from Nextel. Any time I call in to do anything with my account I have to give the phone agent my password. I own a smartphone so I probably have all my personal info on the thing. If it gets stolen wouldn’t take a thief very much to do some whacky stuff to my account.

  82. SuperJdynamite says:

    @david.c: “No … it was rendered to the “phone”.”

    Services can’t really be rendered to inanimate objects. The contract is between you and T-Mobile, not between the phone and T-Mobile.

    “That’s not how it works. You are RESPONSIBLE for the device and all charges revolving the use of said device, whether that use benefits you directly or not.”

    Since most theft of service statues provide means of restitution I don’t see why the victim of the crime should be on the hook for the money. I mean, it’s probably much easier for T-Mobile to stick it to the victim since they already have their billing information, but that doesn’t make it right.

  83. TheUncleBob says:

    @SuperJdynamite: “I don’t see why the victim of the crime should be on the hook for the money”

    The victim shouldn’t be on the hook for the money. However, the victim should be responsible for taking legal action against the individual(s) who stole the equipment and ran up the bill. However, until such time as the victim can recover the equipment and press legal charges against the person responsible for the illegal activities, the victim *should* be responsible for fulfilling the contract they signed and agreed to.

  84. SuperJdynamite says:

    @TheUncleBob: “The victim shouldn’t be on the hook for the money.”

    We agree to agree. Good.

    “the victim *should* be responsible for fulfilling the contract they signed and agreed to.”

    I don’t have my cell phone contract in front of me but I’d wager money that it doesn’t say that I agree to not let people Bluetooth snarf me or clone my phone.

  85. Trumps says:

    @Buran: there is ways to get around every phone’s password. Ive done it for Razor, MDA, SideKick etc. But it is still a good idea. I have my phone locked with a friend’s phone number displayed so it could possibly be returned.

  86. femmesavante says:

    He’s not the brightest. The first thing you do is file a police report. In some places you can even do it online. Until that report is filed, it’s not stolen…under the law that is.

  87. sibertater says:

    Sorry, I believe that there are a good many people in the entitlement generation that believe that they deserve to go through life without consequences for their stupidity. How do you survive without your cell phone? Why wouldn’t you call it in immediately.

    I’ve lost my phone before and called Verizon before I got out of the place I lost it. The phone was “frozen” until I could find it and reactivate it. I was happy about that. Too many things can happen.

  88. Mr. Gunn says:

    david.c: Let me try this again.

    The company isn’t incurring costs of $1500 to place the unauthorized calls, so they’re trying to profit from this. It may be some time before you realize your phone is missing, and it would also cost the company money if everyone called in and had their account locked because they haven’t finished re-tracing their steps yet.

    Fraud protection works for the credit card companies, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for the phone company. In fact, AMEX gets my online shopping business precisely because they have the best fraud prevention/purchase guarantee policies.

    This whole argument feels very juvenile to me.

  89. Mr. Gunn says:

    Ben Popken: Just as tighter lending policies would have been a good idea for the mortgage companies, so is fraud prevention a good idea for the cell phone company, regardless of fault/responsibility/blame.

    I don’t think the phone company has the policy they do because they feel it should be the phone owner’s responsibility, and they won’t change their policy in order to be more compassionate. At some point, occurrence of fraud will start to cost them money, and then they’ll start to prevent it.

    Commenters here can continue to insist that someone who lets themselves get screwed over deserved it.

  90. Hawk07 says:

    I wonder how many haters here would be willing to pay $1,500 worth of CC charges on the same principles they’re using to justify charging somebody $1,500 on their cell phone?

    International call blocking should be enabled on every new phone by default. If you need that feature, one simple call to your wireless carrier can change that. A lot of people don’t read the Consumerist and don’t know the intricacies of their cell phone contracts.

  91. AMetamorphosis says:


    ” … and don’t know the intricacies of their cell phone contracts. “

    If one doesn’t understand the contract, it shouldn’t be signed.

  92. The Porkchop Express says:

    @SuperJdynamite: you’re right, because it’s not your fault it must be sombody else’s fault and thus their responsibility…..Oh wait, no that’s totally wrong.

  93. The Porkchop Express says:

    @Hawk07: the CC thing has been done man. Two different beasts.

    My car has a ten year warranty, why doesn’t my cell phone. Sounds stupid huh? that’s because it is.

  94. valarmorghulis says:

    @MickeyMoo: that’s a catch-22 right there. if you say it is fraud, then you are not responsible for the bill, but at the same time the information you are requesting is no longer your property (hence, making it private information), and they could be sued by the other person for disclosing private information about them to a 3rd party. you can get the information by stating they are valid charges, but then you are responsible for it.

  95. bluesteel26 says:

    Its a bad thing it happened but Tmobile can’t be held at fault. I use to work for a cell phone company in customer service and technical support.

    It may be obvious to you that it was stolen by looking at the change however to say that its not possible for that change to happen to usage or switching a 5 member is not true. I myself have seen texting go from 10 a month to a thousand, overage from none to 560 minutes and they were valid. Unfortunately there are people out there that try to scam their cell phone providers on a daily basis and they do ruin it for the honest consumers. Just like there are great helpful reps that get mixed in with the lazy, mean, disrespectful ones that ruin customer confidence.

    My best advice is to contact your local authorities or file a claim for investigation. If you don’t want to go through the trouble or give up to early in the process try and fight for a courtesy credit from Tmobile, but don’t demand they owe you anything. Be nice to your Reps when you call too. They didn’t do it to you they are just following policies to keep their jobs. No one likes to help a hot head.

  96. bluesteel26 says:

    “It’s not what you know, its what you can prove”-Denzel Washington Training Day

  97. Sweetleader says:

    Yah and she should have reported it stolen when it was stolen. If she wanted to take the risk of finding the phone while it was still on and maybe getting charges thats her fault not the cell companys. When you call it in stolen to a company they immediatley suspend that line so it is not able to be used.

  98. millernancy66 says:

    I’m a Tmobile customer and had my cell stolen , I reported it stolen right away .( I knew it had been stolen). I filed a police report. Did you guys know that your phone has an IMEI number , which is like a finger print. The thief has a t-mobile account and put their sim card in my phone . T-mobile will not do anything about it . They told me they know who has it , it’s a customer of theirs. and unless there is a court order to release the information to the police they won’t stop their customer from using my phone. It’s all a scam buy t-mobile , they won’t do anything. They say they have to do tracking and they make up a whole bunch a bull as they go along. The rep I talked to took 2 sec to put in the IMEI # and he knew who had the phone . The officer called them the same day . They refused to give him the info. T-MOBILE SUKS and they will bull- shit you no matter what . They don’t the first thing about honesty and integrity.

  99. agalvan6 says:

    This guys is so dumb. How long did it take him to realize he had lost his phone?? TMobile offers the, so he could have seen the phone was being used, the myfaves changed, and the international calls being used. One of the things the rep tells you when you lose your phone is that you are responsible for any usage the phone had before making the call to report it lost/stolen. What did he expect?? Losing your phone and not reporting it is like losing your wallet with cash and credit cards and the PIN to all of them and expect people not to use them.