Lost and Stolen Mobiles

If you report a mobile lost or stolen to your mobile service provider (eg Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) it can be blocked across all networks in Australia. This means that your phone cannot be used to make or receive calls or send or receive text messages on any network in Australia.

This is done by blocking the handset’s unique 15-digit serial number, the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). 

This service is free to consumers but not businesses. It protects consumers from facing big bills run-up by thieves and sends a strong signal to thieves that stolen handsets will be blocked across all networks, making them inoperable in Australia.

IMEI blocking is reversible – you can have your mobile unblocked if you find it or it is returned to you.

Here are some tips to assist you protect your mobile and what to do if it’s lost and stolen.

1.     Protect your mobile handset and its contents.

Mobile handsets can be expensive – even if it you are on a plan with “$0” upfront. Never leave it lying around and treat it as you do your wallet or purse. When not using your handset put it away and don’t leave it for everyone to see.

  • Use PIN codes – Use the mobile handset security features to help protect your private and confidential data contained on the handset. Activate the phone’s Personal Identification Number (PIN), which must be entered before gaining access to the handset. Also activate the PIN code for SIM card.
  • Protect voice messages from hackers – Do not leave the default PIN setting on your voice messages because this could make your private messages vulnerable to hackers. Change the default to your own unique PIN code.
  • Back-up information: Regularly back-up your important data such as contacts, calendar and photo library to your computer or similar device to ensure you can recover this valuable data if you lose your handset.
  • User manual – Check information on how to use your handset’s security features.

2.     What to do if your phone is lost or stolen

  • Notify your mobile service provider – Contact your service provider (eg Telstra, Optus, Vodafone). Your service provider is the company you have your contract with or who bills you or if you are prepaid who sells you recharges.  It is important to understand that it is only this company that can IMEI block or unblock your phone – no one else can do it.

Numbers for Carrier customer service:

Telstra 125 111

Optus 13 39 37

Vodafone 1555 on your mobile or 1300 650 410

Virgin Mobile 1300 555 100

Lycamobile 122 on your mobile or 1300 854 607

Lebara 126 122 on your mobile or 1300 126 122

  • Two types of blocking – When contacting your service provider make it clear what type of block you want. If you want to ensure that your lost/stolen handset cannot be used on any network in Australia ask for an IMEI block. You could just block your SIM card, which would mean that anyone with your lost/stolen handset could take out your SIM and put another one in and use the handset as normal. This prevents thieves running up bills on your account, however, it allows them to continue to use the handset.
  • Travelling overseas – If your handset is lost or stolen while travelling overseas it can still be blocked, provided you have an active mobile service with an Australian carrier or mobile service provider and the specific handset must have been used on your Australian network.IMEI blocking will only prevent a handset being used on Australian networks and not overseas networks.
  • No tracking of lost or stolen: Your mobile network operator does not track the location of a lost/stolen handset using the IMEI blocking program.  There are mobile applications available that may remotely track, lock and erase data on your handset.

3.     Buying second-hand mobiles

Buying second-hand mobiles online or at auctions is risky because they may have been reported lost or stolen and IMEI blocked. You risk losing your money because carriers will only unblock a handset for the original lawful owner who reported it lost and stolen and not a second-hand buyer.

  • Check before buying – Check the second-hand mobile’s status at www.lost.amta.org.au to see if it’s blocked.
  • Must be reported lost or stolen – This check can only provide details of phones that have been reported lost/stolen at the time of the inquiry. There can be a 36-hour lag between when a mobile is reported lost or stolen to the carrier and showing “blocked” on the website.