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Unauthorised customer transfers

As a telco customer, you have the right to choose your provider and to change providers whenever you wish, depending on your existing contract terms. However, there’s something called an unauthorised transfer, which is when your telco services are switched to a different provider without your informed consent—this takes away your choice.

Tips for avoiding unauthorised transfers

While you can authorise a transfer over the phone, sometimes it can be confusing and you may not be aware of exactly what’s going on. If you get a call about your telephone account, keep these tips in mind:

  • Some companies may lead you to believe they are calling on behalf of your existing provider. Make sure you know who you are speaking to, the company they’re calling from and what you’re being offered before you agree to anything.
  • Before you accept an offer, make sure you understand the rates and the terms and conditions. It’s a good idea to ask the caller to send you information about the offer, including a Critical Information Summary setting out the key terms and conditions so you can check the details before you make a decision.
  • Be cautious about giving the caller any personal information such as your date of birth or driver’s licence number. The sales person may tell you they need the information for confirmation purposes, but providing this information is often the first step in authorising a transfer.
  • If you are not interested in the offer, make it clear to the caller by being polite and firm.
  • Always check your telephone bill to make sure you’re still with your chosen provider.

For in-person sales, don’t just rely on what the sales person has told you and never sign something without reading it first, as you may unknowingly be agreeing to change your telephone provider.

What can I do if it happens to me?

If your telco service has been transferred without your consent, you should contact:

  • the new provider you have been transferred to—tell them that you did not authorise the transfer and ask to be returned to your preferred/original provider
  • your original provider—let them know what happened and explain that you would like to go back to your previous service arrangements.

In most cases, the problem should be resolved between the two providers. If it is not, you can contact the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on 1800 062 058.  

Liability for charges following an unauthorised transfer

If you have not authorised a transfer and you disagree with the charges billed to you by the new provider, you should lodge a complaint with the new provider. If you are not happy with the response from this provider, you can contact the TIO.

Rules to prevent unauthorised transfer

The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code  sets out what providers must do before transferring a customer’s service. One of the key rules in the Code requires a provider to obtain the customer’s consent before transferring a service.

Consent means that you have agreed to the transfer after the new provider has provided you with information. There’s also certain information that a provider must give you to make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Feel free to share this information with your friends and family and say NO! to unauthorised transfers.

Last updated: 07 June 2017

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