O2 warns customers to 'turn text message previews off' immediately

O2 has warned all customers to turn their text message previews off. The warning from the firm comes amid a spate of thefts up and down the country with the provider issuing five handy hints and tricks to ensure your phone isn't being nicked.

O2 warned: "Only store sensitive information like login details in apps with password or biometric protection. Use different PINs on your apps to your main device. Set up and switch on a SIM pin. Turn message preview OFF."

Explaining the final point, it said: "Scammers are increasingly using stolen phones to access bank accounts and even take out loans in victims’ names. Many banks and websites send verification messages to your phone to check it’s really you. If a fraudster can read these, they’ll find it easier to go after your savings or spend money in your name.

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"More than a third of us (36%) have message preview on, meaning messages can be read even without your pin code. All someone has to do is look at your home screen. To prevent this, you should turn your preview off so that you can only see who the message is from – not what the message contains – when the device is locked."

O2 added: "Ensure you have important device account information handy and in a safe place." The Metropolitan Police, Britain’s biggest force, recorded 165,933 phone thefts in this period — just over half (52 per cent) of the total across England and Wales.

At least 316,683 mobile phone thefts were reported between January 1, 2019, and December 31 last year, according to data obtained by The Times from 35 police forces under Freedom of Information laws. Commander Owain Richards of the Met said: “We understand the impact that mobile phone theft can have on victims. It’s an invasive and sometimes violent crime and we’re committed to protecting Londoners and tackling this issue as we make the capital safer. Our response in this case fell short of expected standards and we apologise to the victim for the service they received.

“Met officers are targeting resources to hotspot areas, such as Westminster, Lambeth and Newham, with increased patrols and plain-clothes officers, which deter criminals and make officers more visibly available to members of the community.”