When your mobile device is stolen, there are some costs you immediately recognize. Most people initially think of the money they paid for the device as a loss incurred by the theft. But mobile theft can cost you much much more.
The Costs of Mobile Theft
Most people think they're walking around with a device worth a couple hundred dollars and that they can easily replace it if it's stolen. Those same people are surprised to find the actual cost of mobile theft is much higher:
- What you paid for your phone - say goodbye to whatever you paid for your phone, you can't recoup that cost.
- The non-subsidized cost of a new phone - chances are, you're locked into a contract and your stolen phone was subsidized by your carrier. You may have paid $199 for your stolen phone, but to replace it may cost you the full phone price, which is over $400 for iPhones
- The cost of charges you didn't make - if you forgot to tell your carrier that your phone was stolen, you may be responsible for charges made post-theft. If your device is shipped overseas, you could find yourself footing the bill for unauthorized long-distance calls amounting to hundreds of dollars. In some cases, you may be able to refute the charges, but you may still end up paying half the charges. You are liable for all calls on your phone until your carrier is notified of the loss / fraud on the account. Some people find this out the hard way. Check your Terms of Service, they're honest about it!
- Termination charges - if you decide not to replace your phone, you still need to pay your carrier to terminate your contract
- Identity theft and fraud - if you're saving passwords, using your phone for purchases or banking, your chances of being a victim of identity theft or fraud go up. Even without this, your phone contains enough information about you and your friends for phishing schemes. Beware these costs don't begin right away! Check your credit report and bank / credit card statements regularly to spot fraud.
If you're not treating your phone like a wad of cash, you're probably not taking very good care to protect it. If you see your mobile phone for its true value, take steps to protect it from theft and you're going to save yourself a lot of time, pain and money.