What to Do When a Carrier Refuses to Port Your Number

Phone companies are required by law to port your number out when you start service with a new carrier. According to the FCC, a company can’t refuse to port your number even if you have an outstanding balance or unpaid termination fees. Still, in some cases, service providers reject porting requests, taking hostage of a phone number you thought you owned.

What can you do if a carrier refuses to port your number?

1. Make sure your porting request is accurate.

This may sound simple, but the number one reason porting requests get rejected is because the owner information submitted doesn’t match what the carrier has on file. Usually it’s a matter of updating a name or address. To make sure your porting request gets accepted the first time, make sure the information on the porting request exactly matches the information on the phone bill.

2. Call the losing carrier.

Sometimes it takes raising a little fuss to get something done. Most big phone companies have an automated process for processing porting requests, and by speaking to a live person you may get a faster response and clarification on why the porting is not being accepted.

3. File a complaint with the FCC.

When all else fails, file a complaint with the FCC. Unfortunately, the FCC may not always enforce the number portability and essentially lets some carriers off the hook. For example, the FCC does not classify certain companies that provide virtual numbers such as MaxEmail, which is an internet fax service, as telecommunication carriers, and therefore does not require them to port numbers. We recently wrote to the FCC when MaxEmail refused to port a customer’s number, and here was their response:

Dear Consumer:
The FCC’s regulatory jurisdiction for porting of numbers is only specific to telecommunication carriers and interconnected VOIP service providers. Portability has to occur within the communication carrier’s (local) rate center. The portability requirements are set forth in Part 52 of the FCC Rules. Please reference Title 47, CFR Parts 52.20 to 52.34 of the FCC Rules. The Rules may be accessed at:http://wireless.fcc.gov/index.htm?job=rules_and_regulations.

The statute imposes obligations and responsibilities on telecommunications carriers, particularly incumbent local exchange carriers. The term number portability means the ability of users of telecommunications services to retain, at the same location, existing telecommunications numbers without impairment of quality, reliability, or convenience when switching from one telecommunications carrier to another.

Most companies providing Virtual Numbers (MaxEmail) have not been classified as telecommunications carriers and therefore the companies are not under any legal obligation to port any telephone number(s) provided as part of their service. Virtual telephone number services are available for Fax-to-Email, Voice-to-Email, Web-Based Email Fax and Voice Mail Services and any other paid service plans. A virtual telephone number or “virtual number” is a telephone number without a directly-associated phone line. Typically this refers to the physical wire or other signaling medium connecting the user’s telephone apparatus to the telecommunications network, and usually also implies a single telephone number for billing purposes reserved for that user.

Virtual numbers are sometimes used in conjunction with mail forwarding services to create a “virtual office” in a remote location. For instance, a company may purchase a virtual phone number with area code 212, together with a mail forwarding service in Manhattan, to give the impression that the company is located in New York, when in fact it may be located in an entirely different country. Usually these numbers are programmed to be forwarded to either a voice over IP service, or to a different phone line, fixed or mobile.

Most company’s state in their acknowledgement and acceptance of terms and agreements of service regarding the member telephone number that the member understands and agrees that member is not the owner of any telephone number(s) assigned to them by the company. All such telephone numbers are owned solely by the company. Usually the member agrees that following the termination of service for any reason whatsoever, the telephone number may be re-assigned immediately to another member of the service and the company shall not be liable for any damages for loss of business arising out of the inability to use the service.

Number Portability

Before you sign up for a phone number, make sure it states in the terms of service that they allow portability. While you may be locked in to a contract and have a separate legal obligation to pay early termination fees, that cannot prevent the company from porting your number.

Telzio never locks in phone numbers or fax numbers and facilitates easy porting of numbers to and away from our service. With Telzio there are no contracts and no termination fees at all. To find out if you can port your number to Telzio, call our customer support at 888-998-9080 or write on the chat, and one of our agents will assist you.

Porting Process

The porting process is typically very easy and takes less than a few days. While the FCC website states that simple ports are required to be done in 1 day, it’s simply not realistic in some cases. When you port your number to Telzio, we submit the request instantly but our hands are tied until the losing carrier authorizes the porting and releases the number to us. Porting from some carriers can take just a few hours, while others can take up to 10 days.

The upside is that there is no downtime when porting your number. When you port your number to Telzio, we notify you with the porting date and time so you know exactly when your service will be switched over. Until that time, you should not cancel service with the old provider.

Useful Links:
Learn more about FCC portability rules.
File a complaint with the FCC.

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Diana is the Chief Customer Officer at Telzio and enjoys helping customers get the most out of their Telzio services.