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Brits don't know how to keep their mobile phones safe abroad

Tuesday, March 31st 2015 by Ellen Branagh

More than half of Brits don’t know how to keep their mobile phones safe when they go abroad, research by Vodafone has found.

A survey by the operator found that despite the amount of personal data people store on their phones, 51% of the 1.6 million Britons travelling abroad over the Easter break don't know the best ways to keep their phone safe.

According to the poll, 46% of respondents said they don’t even use a password lock on their handsets, while 79% do not have valid phone insurance.

Over half (51%) admitted 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 survey of 1,845 respondents, carried out between February 16 and March 6, showed that almost 60% of us will carry our phones at all times when out and about in a new country.

The data found that 46% keep their phones in their pockets while travelling, and over a third (34%) would keep their handsets in a handbag on the floor – giving thieves a prime opportunity to steal them.

The poll comes as a survey by Worldsim found that 52% of Britons don't use their mobile phones while abroad amid fears of racking up huge bills.

Vodafone's poll on mobile security while on holiday also found that 79% of respondents said they would travel without valid insurance and over 81% say they would travel without knowing their IMEI number – which can be used to stop a stolen phone from accessing the network – or their operator’s emergency helpline.

'Tempting targets'

Gillian Edwards, a spokesperson for ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), said: “Tourists are often tempting targets for thieves and a mobile phone is typically one of the most valuable items you take away with you on holiday making it an especially attractive target.

“Having your phone stolen is not only very inconvenient but can be the worst form of holiday overspending, so take good care of your phone when you’re overseas and make sure to contact your phone company straight away if your mobile is stolen.”

Vodafone also found that the tourist hotspot in which visitors are most likely to have their phone stolen is Spain – with the operator’s data showing that more than 30% of all phone thefts abroad reported to it between July 2014 and January this year taking place there.

While the Foreign Office estimates that more people visit France, just 12% of Vodafone’s phone thefts happened there.

Mark Bond, customer operations director at 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.”

He said a new fraud cap on stolen phones would help, but urged customers to report phones missing as soon as they can.

“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.”

Mr Bond advised anyone travelling this Easter to put “simple security measures” in place, including: protecting the handset with a password and SIM lock; taking out insurance; and keeping the IMEI number and Vodafone’s emergency contact number safe.

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