What to do if your cell phone is lost or stolen?

Roberto Sedycias

There are situations in which sometimes we get in, that we feel rather helpless or without knowing exactly what to do or where to go for help. Having a personal cell phone (telefone celular) lost or stolen may be one of these situations. In cases like these the following tips may be of some at least to minimize the potential problems you may run into.

1 - You should take care of your cell phone (telefone celular) as if it were your personal wallet. The best way to avoid being liable with fraudulent charges is to do whatever you can within your means to avoid unauthorized calls in the first place. Check the user guide that comes with your phone set and start using the lock or password feature to potentially prevent a theft from making unauthorized phone calls. There are ways to get around passwords, but you will probably be buying yourself some time until you realize the loss of your cell phone and call your service phone provider.

2 - Call your cell phone (telefone celular) service provider as soon as you discover the loss. Report your missing/stolen device and be sure to keep records of the date and time you called your phone carrier, the name of the person to whom you spoke to, and what you have been informed. Also take note of the state and the region of their call center, plus their telephone extension number. Finally ask for confirmation in writing that your device has been disabled. Some companies can even email this to you.

3 - File a police report. It may not be much of a help in getting your cell phone (telefone celular) back, but it should provide an official record of the missing/stolen cell phone. Keep the police report number available while reporting the loss to the phone carrier. Also you may open an investigation with your carrier if necessary. If you are not getting an immediate response by working directly with your cell phone (telefone celular) company, do not waste any more time. Contact your phone carrier and request an immediate investigation. Usually a formal request for an investigation will prevent formal collections filed by the phone carrier, not to mention that might delay reporting to any credit bureaus against the phone user.

4 - When requesting an investigation, let your phone carrier know that you will be filling a complaint with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), your state attorney general`s office, and your state`s public utility commission (PUC). After taking these steps, the phone carriers will most likely pay closer attention to you, once they become aware that you are an informed consumer. According to a 2006 AARP/ROPER cell phone survey, half of all cell phone users between the age of 18 and over, report not knowing who to call to in the event their cell phone carrier is unable to resolve a billing/service problem to the user satisfaction. Beware that FCC is going to forward your complaint to your phone service provider, requiring a return from them within a month.

5 - Contact your attorney general`s office. According to their website, state attorney general offices handles complaints about cell phone frauds and contract disputes. This office has lawsuits against phone companies based on phone user complaints, resulting sometimes in refunds to consumers and new agreements made by cell phone (telefone celular) service providers on behalf of their cell phone users. Also contact your state`s PUC. Each state has a government agency, usually called utility commission, which handles consumer problems with telephone companies.

A missing or stolen cell phone (telefone celular) may become a big problem if the user does not take immediate actions. Filing a formal missing/stolen report together the with cell phone service carrier and government agencies are the necessary steps one should take to make sure he will not have any more losses. Get to know your rights as a consumer and make sure the any loss you are going to have, in the event of a missing/stolen cell phone (telefone celular), will be the cell phone itself.


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About the Author
2006 All rights reserved
This article can also be accessed in portuguese language from the News Article section of page http://www.polomercantil.com.br/celular.php Roberto Sedycias has a bachelor degree in Business Administration and over 20 years experience in systems analysis and computer programming. Currently working as IT consultant for http://www.polomercantil.com.br