When college student Lauren Ortosky misplaced her cell phone, she figured it was somewhere in her dorm room. She learned it was lost when a T-Mobile agent called and said she was disconnecting the phone because of "unusual" service.
Lauren figured it was a pretty clear she hadn't made the calls. Her bills had always averaged about $100. Since mom pays the bill, she tried to explain the problem to T-Mobile.
"They said, ‘listen, honey, see this all the time? Just pay it and be more careful next time.’ I think most of my friends thought they were liable for up to $50 like the credit cards and was shocked to find that wasn't true," Lauren says.
"You're responsible for your car keys, your wallet; you're responsible for your cell phone too."
You’re responsible for every single charge until the moment you report your phone lost or stolen. Those are the rules according to the wireless association, which represents the cell phone industry.
"They're not going to be looking over your shoulder all the time. There isn't that kind of monitoring going on on a regular basis, so you've got to protect yourself."
Industry experts say the best plan is to keep your phone locked, meaning no one else can use it unless they have your PIN number.
Most cell companies offer this service for free, but the most important step is: "Call and report your phone the second it's out of your possession, the second, the second."