AT&T to block stolen mobile phones from its network using list of purloined models

AT&T to block stolen mobile phones from its network using list of purloined models
Starting this week, AT&T will begin a program designed to keep stolen handsets off its wireless network by making a list of purloined units. A list of these units should make stolen phones harder to sell on the black market. At first, the list would keep stolen models from being reactivated on AT&T's own network. Later in the year, the carrier hopes to share the information with other mobile operators.

With one out of three robberies related to a cell phone theft in 2011, the FCC in April started working with police and mobile carriers to create a national database of stolen handsets. This is something that the nation's largest mobile carrier, Verizon, has done for years on its own and according to Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney, Big Red will be also joining the national database later this year. Earlier this year, we told you that in New York City alone, robberies related to the Apple iPhone or Apple iPad were up 44% year-over-year.

Independent telecommunications analyst Chetan Sharma said that as handsets become more like small computers, more and more they contain sensitive financial, governmental or corporate information that thieves could gain access to. He says that a nationwide database of stolen phones is a good way to enhance national security.

source: NewYorkTimes via MobileBurn



1. tedkord

Posts: 17358; Member since: Jun 17, 2009


2. crysiswarmonger

Posts: 81; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

I would agree good... However, I see buying a used phone (which I have 4 now, non stolen phones) The original owner may have claimed it stolen to get new phone. Or say phone was lost or stolen later and your phone you paid for can't be activated or is deactivated on you. You will have no way to fix it. This is an attempt to keep you buying phones from the vendors not used, they want to make money not you selling phone and recouping it.

10. cthunder

Posts: 126; Member since: Nov 02, 2010

Well I don't know what carrier your with. But with Verizon you have to give them the pin number, serial number or whatever it is before you can even activate the phone. That is one thing I love about Verizon. Especially since I buy used phones off EBAY and Craiglist, the later not so much.

13. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

Well with the GSM carriers, AT&T/Tmobile, all you have to do is pop a new sim card in it. You don't have to call anybody

3. tlsmithsr

Posts: 81; Member since: Sep 28, 2010

So im assuming they are now going to block the imei from being used on the network if the phone was reported stolen, because at&t already has a lost/stolen feature that deactivates the sim card from being used.

4. ibap

Posts: 867; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

What? They weren't doing this until now? If someone claimed a phone as stolen to get a new phone - that is insurance fraud. If AT&T'd been doing this up till now, there would not be an issue. The report doesn't make clear if they are going to apply this to new activations or to phones currently on their network. I have bought multiple phones on eBay, with no problems up to now - for Verizon and Sprint. The only time I had a problem was with the first Sprint Airave, and the previous owner hadn't de-activated it, which he did when I told him about the problem. Since at that time Sprint was charging $5 a month for it, it was also to his advantage.

5. Owlet

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 21, 2011

If they are going to block the IMEI, than thieves will start changing those IMEIs. But this is a good attempt anyway.

6. ph00ny

Posts: 2033; Member since: May 26, 2011

I think this is targetting the iOS devices more than the android devices since IMEI number can be changed on the android devices

9. Owlet

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 21, 2011

So they are not blocking stolen "phones", just stolen "iPhones"??

7. Beholder88

Posts: 86; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

Verizon tracks lost/stolen IMEI's, and 4G LTE sim cards as well. For anyone trying to activate one of these, the system just doesn't allow it. For existing and new customers alike.

8. fervid

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Like others above, I too am wondering why this is news? They were already doing this. Problem is that they need something other than IMEI as those can be changed now, and it has been noted that duplicates are possible, so if mine happens to match one reported stolen then my legal phone gets blocked.

11. cncrim

Posts: 1588; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

It is good for consumer and carrier. Less phone get stolen and less people get kill over stupid phone.

12. items17070

Posts: 70; Member since: Dec 20, 2011

I dont think that blocking 'stolen' phones is the best approch, because this can cause other problems that can cause ligitimate phones with legal or not stollen IMEI's other complications that are stated within some of the other comments in this article, what should be done is, leave the stollen IMEI's still avalible for re-activating and track them down via the network as to there where abouts and find the person who has that stollen phone and have it then returned to the rightful owner.

14. Beholder88

Posts: 86; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

Verizon also has a system in place to track duplicate IMEI's. If there are two of the same showing up on the network the system flags it and the fraud department is notified. Someone might get away with running a phone like that for a short period of time, maybe a few days, before it is caught and stopped.

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