AMTA slams the door on mobile phone thieves.....

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) announced today that lost and stolen mobile phones will now be blocked on all digital (GSM) networks in Australia.

“Using new anti-theft technology which shares information with all carriers, lost and stolen mobile phones are now virtually worthless, because once reported as missing they cannot be connected to any network in Australia” said AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Graham Chalker.

The anti-theft technology works by detecting a mobile phone’s electronic serial number, known as the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, then sharing this information with Optus, Telstra and Vodafone in order to block the identified phone from all GSM networks.

“A lost mobile phone should be reported immediately to your service provider in case it has been stolen. However, if the handset is subsequently found the IMEI block can be easily removed,” Mr Chalker said.

Furthermore, law enforcement agencies will now be able to find out who has attempted to connect a lost or stolen mobile phone on any network, Mr Chalker added.

“Anyone thinking about stealing or receiving a stolen phone will now have to think twice before getting it reconnected.

“When combined with forthcoming Commonwealth and State legislation prohibiting the modification of IMEIs, stolen mobile phones will become a worthless commodity,” Mr Chalker said.

“This is an excellent example of the mobile phone industry working together and with government, law enforcement agencies and consumer groups to achieve a better social outcome.

“Inter-carrier IMEI blocking will make mobile phone theft less attractive, but it is up to individual mobile phone owners to look after their phones and minimise the risk of them being stolen,” Mr Chalker said.

IMEI blocking is only one part of the solution to prevent mobile phone theft; customers still need to reduce the chance of loss and theft by following some simple commonsense security practices, he said.

“More than 100,000 mobile phones were reported lost or stolen in 2002 with more than 50 per cent taken from cars. Therefore, never leave your mobile in the car and never put it down in a public place or leave it unattended,” Mr Chalker said.

AMTA uses a messaging platform to share information between service providers which was developed by the Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF) and is called the Electronic Information Exchange (EIE). EIE is an Australian telecommunications industry initiative, developed to streamline industry business processes. The hosting, operations, support and maintenance of the EIE are provided by Paradigm One Pty Ltd.

IMEI numbers are independent of the phone number and are usually written underneath the battery or on the back of the handset. Mobile phone users can also check their 15 digit IMEI number by dialing *#06# on their mobile handset. Mobile phone owners should make a note of their IMEI number and keep the details in a safe place.

Mind Your Mobile – Security tips

• If your phone is lost or stolen, contact your service provider and the police immediately.

• Treat your phone as you would any valuable item; remember a mobile can cost more than $1000.

• Don't leave your phone on display in crowded or insecure areas, especially in your car.

• Always ensure your mobile’s Personal Identification Number (PIN) is activated.

• Treat your mobile as you would a credit card: if it is lost or stolen report it immediately.

Media enquiries:

AMTA – Matt Stafford ph: 02 6239 6555 or 0409 977358

ACIF – Margaret Fleming ph: 02 9959 9118 or 0404 063 227

Audio of AMTA CEO Graham Chalker:

Broadcast quality grabs of AMTA CEO Graham Chalker are available from www.mediagame.com.au