Lost and stolen phones

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) runs a world-leading program that protects mobile phone users by blocking their handsets across all Australian networks if they are reported lost or stolen.

When blocked a handset is inoperable, preventing its misuse and minimising call costs to the owner.

Mobiles contain valuable personal and business information and it’s important for consumers to take steps to protect their mobiles from theft or loss. There are about 150,000 mobiles blocked every year in Australia with 50,000 unblocked at the request of the owner because they have been returned.

AMTA has tips to help secure your mobile and guard against loss or theft and advice of what you can do if it goes missing.

1. Mobiles are valuable and need care & attention:

Handsets can be expensive even if you got it as a “$0 upfront” deal. That’s not the true cost, which could be more than $1000 for a smartphone. Protect your handset and never put it down or leave it lying around in public. Don’t leave it in a car. Loud ringtones can draw attention to you and alert thieves. Be discreet and switch to vibrate mode.

2. Use mobile’s security features:

Mobiles have security features to help protect them and prevent misuse. Set a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which must be entered before anyone can use it. Smartphones can contain confidential and personal data and you should use PIN code security for the handset and SIM card. Also, protect your voice messages by using a PIN code and do not leave the default setting, which could make your private messages vulnerable to hackers. Read the User Guide to find your mobile’s security features.

3. Back-up information:

Regularly back-up your address book, calendar and photo library to your computer or similar device.

4. Unique IMEI serial number:

Every mobile has a unique 15-digit electronic serial number – the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. (You can check your IMEI by dialling *#06#) AMTA’s world-leading, anti-theft program detects a mobile phone’s IMEI number and shares this information with carriers to block handsets reported lost or stolen across all networks at no cost to consumers.

5. Notify your service provider if your phone is lost or stolen:

You must contact your mobile service providerto request an IMEI block. Once the block is implemented by your service provider, it will also block the IMEI of your phone on all networks, making it inoperable in Australia. Importantly, this protects you from paying for calls made by a thief. If your handset is found, your service provider can unblock your mobile for you.

6. Take care if buying second-hand mobiles:

Buying second-hand mobiles online or at auctions can be risky because they may have been reported lost or stolen, be IMEI blocked and do not work. Check the mobile’s status at http://www.lost.amta.org.au/ by entering the mobile’s IMEI number. It only provides details of phones reported lost or stolen at the time of the inquiry. There can be a 72-hour lag between when a mobile is reported lost and stolen to the carrier and showing “blocked” on the website. If you buy a mobile that’s been reported lost or stolen and blocked, the carrier will not unblock it.

7. No tracking of lost or stolen mobiles:

Your carrier does not track lost and stolen mobiles and they cannot be pinpointed.

8. IMEI blocks only in Australia:

IMEI blocking only applies to Australia and users must be connected to a service provider at the time of loss/theft. If you are travelling overseas and your phone is lost or stolen Australian network operators cannot block it.