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U.S. Carriers Agree to Deny Service to Stolen Phones

Smartphones these days are expensive pieces of equipment, which makes them attractive targets for thieves. However, if a new shared database from major U.S. carriers is successful, the market for stolen cell phones is about to get a whole lot smaller.

Bloomberg reports that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon have teamed up with the FCC to launch a new stolen phone database. The database will contain serial numbers of all phones reported stolen and the four major carriers have agreed to deny service to any handset that turns up in the database.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said that carriers are prepared to start blocking service to stolen phones within six months. They hope that this new system will discourage cell phone thieves as well as protect victims' data.

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  • ksampanna
    I can't believe it took them so long. This should've been right since cellphones became mainstream
    Reply
  • ttg_Avenged
    Good. Remember that one guy who stole a iPhone and uploaded his pics to facebook? Rofl, what a dumb little...

    However, thieves would just sell the phone, so this is nice to stop them.
    Reply
  • Johmama
    This is actually a really good idea. I've never been victim of cell-phone theft so this doesn't affect me right now, but it's great that they want to do this so I"m not a victim in the future.

    Plus, I gain a little faith in "the system" back every time I see big companies willing to work together, even IF it's for a common benefit. It happens once in a blue moon...
    Reply
  • flyflinger
    Hope they will add a feature that allows all of us to access the database to check for status of a used phone before buying it.
    Reply
  • JDFan
    So -- what happens if someone falsely reports someone else's cellphone as stolen or sells a phone and a few months later reports it stolen ?? I can see it now someone goes into a retail outlet or an employee in a store that gets fired writes down the serial # off all the phones in the place and then a couple months later starts reporting them all stolen and suddenly the stores customers all have their phones made useless !
    Reply
  • ses27
    I wonder how long it will be before it is misused to back a phone from going from one carrier to another
    Reply
  • twelch82
    JDFanSo -- what happens if someone falsely reports someone else's cellphone as stolen or sells a phone and a few months later reports it stolen ?? I can see it now someone goes into a retail outlet or an employee in a store that gets fired writes down the serial # off all the phones in the place and then a couple months later starts reporting them all stolen and suddenly the stores customers all have their phones made useless !
    I think the way it would be likely to work is that when you first activate your new phone, the carrier would collect the serial number - it has to be accessible through software for them to even be able to block a stolen phone. Then, if your phone gets stolen, they already know what the serial number for it was, so that serial number would be moved into the database of inoperable serial numbers.

    The best thieves may find a way to change the serial numbers, but it would probably be an effective deterrent for the common thief.
    Reply
  • bak0n
    It took them so long because they saw $$$ profit from thieves, but not themselves thieves, the other ones, who steal the phones.
    Reply
  • rebel1280
    freaking awesome, im not going to say about time or anything just, congrats on getting together and laying down some much needed ground rules! :)
    Reply
  • cyberthug
    Only now?
    I am from Israel and we had this policy for years now..
    Reply