Signs to look for
Someone might have stolen your mobile number if:
- you cannot make or receive calls or messages when you usually can
- your mobile is showing ‘SOS only’ where reception bars usually appear.
If you notice those signs, check:
- if your mobile phone account is active
- for any network incidents that might cause the loss of service.
Tell your telco immediately if you suspect someone stole your number.
How someone can steal your number
If a criminal has your personal information, they can steal your mobile number in a couple of ways:
- An unauthorised port—the criminal contacts a new telco and pretends to be you, sets up an account and ports your number.
- A SIM swap—the criminal purchases a SIM card and then contacts your current telco pretending to be you and requests to have your number transferred to the purchased SIM card.
Once a criminal has your number, they can receive SMS verification codes. This means they can get access to services such as your bank, email and social media.
What to do if your mobile number has been stolen
If you think someone has stolen your mobile number, contact your telco immediately. Ask whether someone ported your number without your consent. If they did, ask your telco to reverse the port.
If someone made a SIM swap (has a SIM card with your number), ask your telco to deactivate the SIM card and send you a new SIM card.
Make sure you also:
- contact your bank or financial institution straight away and tell them someone might be committing fraud
- consider changing your passwords for accounts such as for your bank, email and social media
- report any fraud to local police or the Australian Federal Police
- report any cybercrime relating to identity theft and online fraud to the Australian Cyber Security Centre
- contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160 if you want help with identity crime or cyber security
- report the activity to Scamwatch.
How you are protected
Your telco service is an essential service. There are rules that require telcos to take steps to protect you from fraud and identity theft. These are set out in:
- the Telecommunications (Mobile Number Pre-porting Additional Identity Verification) Industry Standard 2020
- the Telecommunications Service Provider (Customer Identity Authentication) Determination 2022.
Telcos must take steps to confirm your identity before they carry out some transactions such as, for example, porting your number or swapping your SIM.
A telco may confirm your identity by:
- sending you a unique code via SMS that you need to verify
- calling your mobile number and asking you to verify your request
- asking to see proof of identity documents.