Customer security

Data security

Shield illustration

When customers use their phones to make calls, send emails, shop online or check their bank balance, they want to be sure that their personal data and communications are protected.

Our business customers have even more complex security requirements. They require networks and databases that are totally secure, especially when their employees are working remotely.

We need to use and store information about our customers in order to provide the best possible service. So it’s vitally important that we maintain the highest standards of data privacy and security. We aim to create a culture at Vodafone where employees have a clear understanding of how important data privacy is and how to ensure it’s protected. We comply with all relevant laws and regulations and we’ve established our own Privacy Commitments.

These commitments underline our promise to protect customers’ privacy. Whenever we make a decision within the company that could impact privacy – the products we design, the campaigns we launch, the information we share with partners – these commitments are a critical part of our decision-making.

Our commitments to you

Vodafone privacy commitments

  • Respect: We value privacy because of its sheer importance to our customers. It’s about more than legal compliance – it’s about building a culture that respects privacy and justifies the trust placed in us
  • Openness and honesty: We communicate clearly about actions we take that might impact privacy. We ensure our actions reflect our words and we’re open to feedback about our actions
  • Choice: We enable our customers to make simple and meaningful choices about their privacy
  • Privacy by design: Respect for privacy is a key component in the design, development and delivery of our products and services
  • Balance: When we’re required to balance the right to privacy against other obligations necessary for a free and secure society, we work to minimise privacy impacts
  • Laws and standards: We comply with privacy laws and we’ll work with governments, regulators, policy makers and opinion formers for better and more meaningful privacy laws and standards
  • Accountability: Everyone at Vodafone is accountable for living up to these commitments, including our partners and suppliers

Privacy training and auditing

Our aim is to create a culture at Vodafone where everyone understands their responsibilities and the importance of protecting customers’ privacy. All our employees are trained on data protection and privacy issues and they’re required to follow our data handling standards and data security policies.

Employees are given access to data only on a need-to-know basis and must pass security checks. They’re also given a unique username that enables us to keep an audit trail and understand which employees are looking at the data we hold.

Some customer data is handled by our suppliers, including some companies based outside the UK. We use a detailed selection process, contractual obligations and regular audits by our information security team to make sure these companies meet our standards. If we identify any potential security risks, we work with them on improvement plans and set timelines for them to comply with our requirements.

We've linked up with the Telecommunications United Kingdom Fraud Forum (TUFF) and other telecoms leaders to help get the 'stay safe' message to as wide an audience as possible.

We've also produced a guide to protecting customers against fraud and identity theft.

Voicemail security

We believe customers’ security is critical. We encourage them to be secure at all times: if a customer needs to access their voicemail remotely or if they feel they need additional security for voicemail, we recommend they set a security PIN. This can only be set from their phone. If they need to reset the PIN, they can call our Contact Centre and a random PIN will be sent to their phone. Customer advisers do not see what this PIN is.

If someone tries to access a PIN-protected voicemail unsuccessfully, a text message is sent to the voicemail’s owner to alert them.

Two levels of security are available to protect voicemails:

  • Complete security – the customer will be asked to enter a PIN number at all times, whether they're accessing voicemail from their own mobile phone or from another phone.
  • Standard security – the customer will be asked to enter a PIN number only if they're accessing voicemail from another phone or if they are calling from abroad.

Helping our business customers stay secure

We can help our business customers protect their networks, devices and data. We can suggest a range of options that will keep data secure and still enable businesses to benefit from flexible ways of working.

Fighting crime

Sometimes we’ll share information with the police and security services to help prevent or solve a crime. Requests from the police come through an automated service instead of by phone. It takes just seconds to get the relevant information, which is particularly useful when we’re helping the emergency services identify 999 callers.

Spam messages

Spam or unsolicited texts telling us we’re due compensation or have won a competition can be annoying and potentially unsafe. While texting STOP to a legitimate marketing or advertising message from a known company should be effective, texting STOP to a spam message is not a good idea. The sender might have picked your number randomly and replying tells them that the number is in use.

Customers can send spam texts to us free on 7726 (it spells SPAM on the keypad). We’ll investigate and, if appropriate, we’ll disconnect the number generating the spam texts on our network. On average, we disconnect 5,000 numbers a month.

The best way to avoid spam is to be careful who we give our mobile numbers to, especially online, and to carefully to check privacy policies and marketing opt-outs when ordering goods.

Stolen phones

Hundreds of mobile phones are stolen in the UK every day, and the increasing popularity of high-value smartphones makes mobile theft a growing problem. We work with the police and joint industry and government initiatives such as the Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum, to tackle phone crime and theft.

We blacklist all handsets reported to us as stolen so they can't be used on any UK network. Stolen phones on our network are blocked within 15 minutes and this information is then shared with the other networks within 24 hours – exceeding MICAF targets.

Our record is good: we always exceed MICAF's target to block 80% of stolen phones within 24 hours on our network and 48 hours on all other UK networks. We block phones on our network within one hour, and 24 hours on other networks. We hope to improve further by introducing real-time blocking on our network, so blacklisting will be an instant application.

We also file a report to the National Mobile Property Register, a police database of property ownership used to identify and trace stolen property. This means the database can quickly be updated with blacklisted phones, giving the police better access to information about a stolen phone.

Historically, we’ve only been able to blacklist a phone for voice and text messages. However, with improvements in technology we can now block data usage, too, a massive benefit to our customers given the increasing use of data.

Customers should call us as soon as they think their mobile device is lost or stolen. If it turns up again we can always unblock it. As soon as a lost or stolen phone is reported to us, we’ll take responsibility for any further fraudulent charges built up by it.

Customers can let us know about a lost or stolen phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 191 free from a Vodafone mobile or 0333 3040 191 from any other phone (standard call charges apply). They can also report it using our Live Chat service.

Our advice to customers:

  • Treat your phone like you would your wallet or purse - keep it out of sight and never leave it unattended
  • Use your phone's built-in security features, like the keypad PIN
  • Keep your phone hidden and take extra care when using it at night, or in places popular with thieves like train or bus stations
  • Register your phone on the UK national property register at www.immobilise.com. It might mean the police will be able to reunite you with your phone if it's ever stolen and turns up again
  • Security mark the phone and battery with your postcode and house number. Keep a note of your SIM card number and your 15 digit IMEI number – you can find this by pressing *#06# on your phone
  • If your mobile is lost or stolen, call 0333 3040 191 from any phone (standard call charges apply) or 191 free from another Vodafone mobile. We'll block your mobile and you won’t be responsible for any charges generated by its use
  • Report the theft to the nearest police station.