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Carriers Band to Fight Cellphone Theft

Apr 11, 2012 Blog 4 Comments

We said last time “96% of all lost smartphone will be browsed through for personal information stored on the smartphone. And we’re not talking about your address so they can return your lost smartphone – no it’s more frightening than that”.

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It seems that it’ll be easier than ever for our US customers. Both the FCC and the four major carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint) have teamed up to create a national lost/stolen phone registry to combat cell phone theft.

The nation’s major wireless providers have agreed to a deal with the U.S. government to build a central database of stolen cellphones—part of a broad effort to tame an explosion of thefts nationwide.

The database, which the wireless companies will build and maintain, will be designed to track phones that are reported as lost or stolen and deny them voice and data service. The idea is to reduce crime by making it difficult or impossible to actually use a stolen device, reducing resale value.

Currently, Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. block phones that are reported stolen from being reactivated. AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA don’t. All four have agreed to be part of the new database.

“New technologies create new risks,” said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, which negotiated the database proposal. “We wanted to find a way to reduce the value of stolen smartphones.”

Cellphone theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., law-enforcement officials nationwide say. The deal between the FCC and the wireless carriers is partly the result of pressure from frustrated police chiefs. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, an affiliation of 70 police chiefs from large cities across the U.S. and Canada, published a resolution in February calling on the FCC to require telecom companies to implement technology to disable stolen devices.

Behind the increase in crime: A lucrative market for used phones. Thieves can sell pilfered devices to local merchants or street-corner middlemen—or hawk them on sites such as, or, where a used iPhone, for instance, can fetch several hundred dollars.

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