What you can do to make your mobile phone more secure
There are several steps you can take to make your mobile phone more secure, including using your phone's security features. These features may stop people making unauthorised calls using your mobile phone.
Personal Identification Number (PIN)
Your mobile phone SIM card will contain a PIN that can help protect your phone from unauthorised usage. Your PIN is located on the scratch panel when you first purchase your SIM card. For added security, it’s always best to change your PIN when you first obtain your SIM card. Your mobile phone manual will show you how change the PIN.
Locking your mobile phone to your SIM card
SIM-locking your mobile phone is a security precaution that you can set (refer to your user manual for instructions). When this feature is activated, a PIN will have to be entered on the handset keypad before it can be used with another SIM card. Activating this feature will minimise the use of your handset by unauthorised parties.
Locking your SIM card
Your SIM card also has a security feature that requires a PIN to be entered each time the mobile phone is turned on. Calls cannot be made using your SIM card without entering this PIN (with the expectation of the emergency numbers 112 and 000). The PIN is for the SIM card only, not the mobile phone. So if the SIM is put into another phone, the PIN for the SIM card will need to be entered before any calls can be made. The SIM card is identified by the network by its electronic serial number-the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number.
Unblocking your SIM card
If you have entered you PIN incorrectly three times, your SIM card will become blocked. If this occurs, you will be required to obtain an unlock code, more commonly known as a PUK code (Personal Unblocking Key) from your mobile phone service provider. Once you have entered the PUK code, your phone will ask you to create a new PIN number.
International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number
Each mobile phone has an individual serial number called the IMEI number, which can be identified by the mobile phone service provider’s network. It is a 15-digit number on the back of your handset under the battery and can be found on most handsets by pressing *#06# on your phone keypad. The IMEI will appear on the screen. You may need to scroll down to see the whole number.
You should record your IMEI number in case your mobile phone is lost or stolen. Your mobile phone service provider may liaise with the police about a lost or stolen handset and, if found, your handset will be able to be identified by the number.
Thieves have been deterred from stealing mobile phones with the introduction of IMEI 'blocking'. Blocking an IMEI on a mobile phone network prevents a mobile phone from being used with any SIM on any Australian network.
Mobile carriers are able to block the use of lost or stolen mobile phones and unblock recovered mobile phones on their network. They have also agreed to exchange their lists of blocked and unblocked IMEI numbers with other mobile phone service provider so these can also be processed (blocked/unblocked) on all mobile networks.
What to do if your mobile phone is lost or stolen
If your mobile phone is lost or stolen, contact your mobile phone service provider immediately to suspend your service and prevent unauthorised calls being made and billed to you. Your provider will block your SIM card and IMEI number to prevent your phone from being used on any Australian mobile network.
Report the loss or theft to the police, providing identification numbers for your SIM card and IMEI number. This information may assist the police in the recovery of your mobile phone.
Some mobile phone service providers may charge a fee to reactivate a SIM card service. Blocking your phone does not cancel your contract. So, if you block your mobile phone, you are still required to honour your mobile phone contract.
How to check if a second-hand mobile phone is lost or stolen?
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) has an agreement in place with all Australian mobile phone carriers to block all lost or stolen mobile phones. You can check on the AMTA website if a second-hand mobile phone has been lost or stolen.
More information on mobile phones and choosing products and services is available on the ACMA's website.
The ACMA has fact sheets on a range of topics.
Please note: This document is intended as a guide only and should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.