Keeping your telephone number in France ©Casfotoarda

If you want to stay in control of your telecom and broadband services in France some new protection has just become available.

French regulation

The French telecom regulator ARCEP is the body charged with protecting telephone and broadband customers’ interests. Similar to OFCOM in the UK, it makes rules that offer customer protection from bad practice and, whilst it may not be as efficient as some would like, it does address many concerns.

Most recently it has decided to address the unauthorised taking over of a customer’s account without their agreement. In the UK this is known in the industry as ‘slamming’, with severe penalties for companies that misbehave. In France the consumer protection is less forceful, but has just been given a small boost.

In the past a simple sales call could result in the service being transferred. It merely sufficed if the ‘customer’ simply asked for some information about the service being offered, even when it was merely a casual question and the service was not wanted or requested.  The way this often happened was that the caller was working in a call centre and was not a direct employee of the telecom company. All the caller was interested in, therefore, was in getting their commissions without any regard for the real needs of the customer. Call centre employees know that they would be assigned to a different contract shortly, and therefore did not feel accountable if they left a slew of problems behind them.

New rules

October 2015 saw a new development to enhance consumer protection. While that risk still remains, the transferring of an account is not so easy if the customer’s telephone number is to be retained. Now the acquiring telecom company is required to provide a ‘RIO’ number that can only be obtained by the account holder before the number can be transferred.


How to keep your French telephone number

If you have decided to move your account and wish to retain your telephone number you will have to contact 3179 from your French landline to prevent fraudulent representation. You will be connected to a voice server (automated) and have to answer a small number of questions. You will then receive your RIO number from your old supplier. You then have to give this to your new supplier. Here is a translation of the automated message you will receive:

“This is voice server for the RIO number service. The RIO associated to the number “your landline number” is “RIO number”. If you wish to change your supplier and keep your existing number, don’t cancel your existing contract. Your new provider will deal with it.

To repeat your RIO, press 1. To receive your RIO by text message, press 2. To receive your RIO by email, press 3. To receive your RIO by post, press 4.”

You will have to pass this number on to your new telecom company so that they can ensure you keep your number.


Bob Elliott UK TelecomBob Elliott is the Commercial Director of UK Telecom, provider of telephone lines, broadband and satellite broadband services. With ten years of experience in the French telecoms market for English-speaking expats., Bob provides useful tips and advice on anything from a simple line rental to satellite broadband and VoIP calls, and everything in between.

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