Authentication methods in Azure Active Directory - phone options

For direct authentication using text message, you can Configure and enable users for SMS-based authentication. SMS-based sign-in is great for Frontline workers. With SMS-based sign-in, users don't need to know a username and password to access applications and services. The user instead enters their registered mobile phone number, receives a text message with a verification code, and enters that in the sign-in interface.

Users can also verify themselves using a mobile phone or office phone as secondary form of authentication used during Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication or self-service password reset (SSPR).

Note

Phone call verification is not available for Azure AD tenants with trial subscriptions. For example, signing up for a trial EMS licenses, will not provide the capability for phone call verification.

To work properly, phone numbers must be in the format +CountryCode PhoneNumber, for example, +1 4251234567.

Note

There needs to be a space between the country/region code and the phone number.

Password reset doesn't support phone extensions. Even in the +1 4251234567X12345 format, extensions are removed before the call is placed.

Mobile phone verification

For Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication or SSPR, users can choose to receive a text message with a verification code to enter in the sign-in interface, or receive a phone call.

If users don't want their mobile phone number to be visible in the directory but want to use it for password reset, administrators shouldn't populate the phone number in the directory. Instead, users should populate their Authentication Phone attribute via the combined security info registration at https://aka.ms/setupsecurityinfo. Administrators can see this information in the user's profile, but it's not published elsewhere.

Screenshot of the Azure portal that shows authentication methods with a phone number populated

Microsoft doesn't guarantee consistent SMS or voice-based Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication prompt delivery by the same number. In the interest of our users, we may add or remove short codes at any time as we make route adjustments to improve SMS deliverability. Microsoft doesn't support short codes for countries / regions besides the United States and Canada.

Text message verification

With text message verification during SSPR or Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication, an SMS is sent to the mobile phone number containing a verification code. To complete the sign-in process, the verification code provided is entered into the sign-in interface.

Phone call verification

With phone call verification during SSPR or Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication, an automated voice call is made to the phone number registered by the user. To complete the sign-in process, the user is prompted to press # on their keypad.

Office phone verification

With phone call verification during SSPR or Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication, an automated voice call is made to the phone number registered by the user. To complete the sign-in process, the user is prompted to press # on their keypad.

Troubleshooting phone options

If you have problems with phone authentication for Azure AD, review the following troubleshooting steps:

  • “You've hit our limit on verification calls” or “You’ve hit our limit on text verification codes” error messages during sign-in
    • Microsoft may limit repeated authentication attempts that are performed by the same user in a short period of time. This limitation does not apply to the Microsoft Authenticator or verification code. If you have hit these limits, you can use the Authenticator App, verification code or try to sign in again in a few minutes.
  • "Sorry, we're having trouble verifying your account" error message during sign-in
    • Microsoft may limit or block voice or SMS authentication attempts that are performed by the same user, phone number, or organization due to high number of failed voice or SMS authentication attempts. If you are experiencing this error, you can try another method, such as Authenticator App or verification code, or reach out to your admin for support.
  • Blocked caller ID on a single device.
    • Review any blocked numbers configured on the device.
  • Wrong phone number or incorrect country/region code, or confusion between personal phone number versus work phone number.
    • Troubleshoot the user object and configured authentication methods. Make sure that the correct phone numbers are registered.
  • Wrong PIN entered.
    • Confirm the user has used the correct PIN as registered for their account (MFA Server users only).
  • Call forwarded to voicemail.
    • Ensure that the user has their phone turned on and that service is available in their area, or use alternate method.
  • User is blocked
    • Have an Azure AD administrator unblock the user in the Azure portal.
  • SMS is not subscribed on the device.
    • Have the user change methods or activate SMS on the device.
  • Faulty telecom providers such as no phone input detected, missing DTMF tones issues, blocked caller ID on multiple devices, or blocked SMS across multiple devices.
    • Microsoft uses multiple telecom providers to route phone calls and SMS messages for authentication. If you see any of the above issues, have a user attempt to use the method at least five times within 5 minutes and have that user's information available when contacting Microsoft support.

Next steps

To get started, see the tutorial for self-service password reset (SSPR) and Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication.

To learn more about SSPR concepts, see How Azure AD self-service password reset works.

To learn more about MFA concepts, see How Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication works.

Learn more about configuring authentication methods using the Microsoft Graph REST API beta.