Citing its desire to protect customers from identity theft and other fraudulent activities, Verizon announced today
that it is seeking FCC approval to SIM lock all handsets that it sells for a 60 day period. The carrier says that criminals target Verizon customers because the carrier is the only large wireless provider to unlock devices as soon as they are sold. The advantage to customers is that once a phone is no longer Verizon's property and it belongs to the buyer, it can be used on any compatible network.
But Verizon says that this policy allows criminals to hijack customer accounts and order phones that they don't intend to pay for. These handsets, according to Big Red, are then sold in the black market around the world. Incidents like this happen to 7,000 Verizon customers each month, according to the company. Verizon says that it will lock the phones it sells for a 60 day "fraud safety check period." After the 60 days is up, the phones will unlock automatically. The wireless provider says that almost none of its customers switch carriers during the first 60 days after purchasing a new handset.
To make sure that it isn't violating any laws or regulations, Verizon is asking the FCC for confirmation that this plan is in line with the "C-block rules" instituted back in 2007. The company notes that even if the FCC signs off on this, the nation's largest carrier will still have "the most consumer friendly unlocking policy in the industry." Verizon points out that its rivals lock their newly purchased handsets for a period of time, and require that they be paid off in full before unlocking them.
"We strongly believe that only real customers, not fraudsters, should be able to take their phones and wireless devices and use them on all compatible wireless networks. We continue to support open, unlocked devices that can be used on other networks. We stand by that pledge and we’ll continue to fight fraud and theft on behalf of our customers."-Ronan Dunne, executive vice president, group president, Verizon Wireless
Verizon says that it has already improved the security of its stores and inventory, and now is moving on to protect the "digital security" of its devices.