Mobile phones: five hidden risks could cost you dear

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The only hidden risk of their mobile phone that most people are vaguely aware of is whether there's any chance it can be harming our health. Meanwhile, we regularly take five key risks with our phones, which could be incredibly harmful to our wealth.

So what should we really be worrying about?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

1. A lost phone becomes a massive bill

According to Ofcom, when someone's mobile phone is stolen, they are responsible for the cost of any calls, messages or data consumed before they report the phone to their provider as missing.

On average, it says that the thieves run up a £65 phone bill before the owner gets around to reporting it. However, it warns that a committed thief can run up a bill of thousands of pounds before you realise your phone is missing.

The Watchdog is working to try to cap your liability to £50 after a theft, but in the interim it has warned customers to err on the side of caution, to use a passcode, consider barring calls to international and premium rate numbers, and rather than wait for the phone to turn up, report it as missing as soon as possible.

2. Mobile banking mistakes could be costly

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned that the speedy development of mobile banking could be leaving users open to risk.

It highlighted potential risks as malware and viruses hidden within apps that can track your passwords. This is particularly worrying given that so few people protect their phone with virus software. It added that the IT is new and may be rushed out, exposing users to a loss of service in the case of failure, and it added that the smaller keypads could lead to more mistakes.

It emphasised that users needed to understand all the risks before deciding whether or not to embrace mobile banking.

3. Missing a payment can have a huge knock-on effect

You may not think your mobile phone contract is particularly important to your financial life, but it is listed on your credit report. If you miss a payment - especially if you don't rectify it quickly - the company can put a note on your account to show you have been delinquent. There are instances where this has stopped people from being given a mortgage.

It's worth getting hold of your credit report from an organisation like Experian and checking your payment record. If there's money outstanding you need to ensure it is paid as soon as possible, and put a note on your account explaining the mistake.

4. Roaming charges

Roaming charges have been controlled in Europe, but they can still add up when you're away - and when you're travelling outside Europe there are real risks to consider. We recently reported the case of a 25-year-old dental nurse who had been in Turkey when her young son became ill. To cheer him up she downloaded a film - at a cost of over £1,000.

5. Data downloads

We can tell how many messages we are sending, and how long our calls take, but most of us haven't a clue how much data we use when we check out a Youtube clip, or upload a photo to Facebook. There have been some high-profile cases where people have wildly underestimated what they were using.

At the end of 2012 a Welsh painter and decorator hit the headlines after receiving a mobile phone bill of almost £7,000. His phone company said he racked up the charges by downloading films and TV programmes.

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