Major U.S. Carriers Team Up to Prevent Cell Phone Theft

In a previous post, we wrote about thieves increasingly targeting smartphone owners — and the unwillingness of cell service providers to address the problem. We’re happy to report that the major carriers have finally agreed to do the right thing and are set to begin blacklisting stolen smartphones later this year.

So what does this mean for the average cell phone user?

Through an agreement with the U.S. government, the serial numbers of all phones that are reported stolen will go into a central database, which will be built and maintained by the service providers. Once you report a theft of your pricey iPhone or Android device, the phone will be blacklisted and cut off from all providers in the U.S. So, if a thief makes off with your phone, no one will be able to use it to make calls, send texts or connect to a data network and get online.

Thefts should start to drop immediately once the blacklisting program gets underway and bad guys realize that the resale value of, say, a hot iPhone, has tanked.

Each of the four major service providers (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T) announced that they will have their own individual blacklisting services up and running within six months, and that all four will be combined into a single unified system within 18 months. Within two years, the smaller providers are expected to be onboard with the program as well.

We’re looking forward to the implementation of this system and the drop in phone theft that it’s likely to bring with it. And who knows? The next time your Android is lost or stolen, you may actually have a shot at getting it back.

(Via Gizmodo) (Image by Yutaka Tsutano licensed under Creative Commons)

About the author  ⁄ Marc Horowitz

Marc is the Creative Director at BrickHouse Security and the Editor of the BrickHouse blog. He’s a former Editor-in-Chief at Hachette Filipacchi Media and has written about technology and general interest topics for a number of major national print and online publications, including The New York Times, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, The Economist, The Village Voice and many others. A native New Yorker, Marc lives in NYC’s West Village. His passions include travel, skiing, food, books, film, live music, comedy and irony.

  • http://www.besthomealarmsystemshq.com Home Security Guru

    It’s about time this happens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my cell phone. Would be excellent if they could also remotely wipe the data if it is deemed stolen or lost. That’s why it is always good to have a passcode on your phone.

  • http://www.asecurelife.com/ A Secure Life

    Great article! We carry more personal information and secure data on our smart phones than we think – losing your phone can not only result in headache and cost but also identity theft. Be sure to use the passcode lock and the iPhone has a feature to erase data after a certain number of failed password attempts. Better safe that sorry!

  • http://www.asecurelife.com/ A Security Expert

    Great article! We carry more personal information and secure data on our smart phones than we think – losing your phone can not only result in headache and cost but also identity theft. Be sure to use the passcode lock and the iPhone has a feature to erase data after a certain number of failed password attempts. Better safe that sorry!

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