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.