AT&T rumored to launch phone blocking service this week

It's a threat that many people have in the back of their mind but tend to push away. It's the thought of your smartphone being stolen and the thief not only running up charges on your account but also getting their hands on your personal information. Now one of the biggest wireless carriers is rumored to be launching a service designed to help those with stolen phones.

The Verge reports that it got access to a note sent by AT&T to its customer service representatives. The note stated that, starting this Tuesday, July 10th, the company will allow its customers to suspend access to a stolen smartphone. AT&T customers must contact a customer service representative in order to suspend their smartphone. If a device has a remote data wipe app, the customer must use that app before their phone is blocked by AT&T.

While the article claims to have heard from an unnamed source at AT&T that the company "will have no directory of blocked phones", it also adds that only the customer who asks for a phone block will be able to restore the smartphone. That certainly does suggest that AT&T will have some kind of list of stolen phone numbers that it will have to keep track of. If there is such a list, you can bet that privacy groups would have some concerns about AT&T's use of such information.

Source: The Verge

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Huh? In Australia, if you lose your phone you just call your provider and they block the SIM and the phone from all networks. I'm surprised the US doesn't have that, I would have assumed it's standard everywhere.

mikeyx12 said,
Huh? In Australia, if you lose your phone you just call your provider and they block the SIM and the phone from all networks. I'm surprised the US doesn't have that, I would have assumed it's standard everywhere.
Ha! The world must think we have smart people here in America or something...

I'm going to run off and lol at all the omg's my friends are tweeting about while watching Real Housewives - because I worry about what they're doing. All this while worrying about what baby Jesus really thinks about birth control and hoping that convicted mass rapist and murderer is being treated humanely in prison. God knows I'd cry if he missed a meal, as should he so I can take a picture of it with Instagram. Oh, and I worry about how Jobs is doing, I hope he makes another iteration of every other iPhone - it's my life.

After all that typing I'm now going to eat a triple cheeseburger at Wendy's with a large fry. Just to be healthy though I'm getting a salad also with the largest diet Coke available. Then I'm punching my mom in the face for looking stupid and telling me I need a life.

Welcome to America.

mikeyx12 said,
Huh? In Australia, if you lose your phone you just call your provider and they block the SIM and the phone from all networks. I'm surprised the US doesn't have that, I would have assumed it's standard everywhere.
The SIM card does not prevent usage of the phone on other networks, or even the same network. It simply requires the thief, or second hand buyer, to replace the SIM card.

The only purpose of blocking a SIM is to avoid having that thief run up charges from your account, but it is practically implied because you would replace your old SIM with the one that goes into whatever replacement phone that you get, thus deactivating the old SIM anyway.

Makes sense. The FCC now requires a universal block list for stolen cell phones in the US. So it only makes sense that ATT will offer this service now.

FCC rule goes into effect later this year or early next.

the "privacy groups" lulz hav nothing to fear. the IMEI number is known to all networks
with out it your phone can not join the cell netowrk. its the fingerprint of your phone, every phone/ mobile 3g usb modems has its one IMEI.

so its nothing to get upset about and start a law suit for.
at&t wont have a list of "stolen phone numbers" just the IMEI that they have allways had
a list of. this is married to your account so they know what handset you have.

what is strange is that at&t are allowing customers to have their phones unblocked.
here in the UK once you report your phone as stolen the IMEI is blacklisted across all networks in the UK and Europe. the only way to get a stolen handset working again is to reprogram it with a new IMEI and this is Ilegial in the UK.

its good they are letting customers re activate, incases where you lose your phone and want to tempory block it. or you may be lucky enough to have your stolen handset retured to you. but as insurence covers this a new handset is often issued back.


i thought this was common place? guess it's just Europe..

i.e. your handset is stolen, you call the operator with a police incident number and the IMEI is blocked from all networks..

BGM said,
i thought this was common place? guess it's just Europe..

i.e. your handset is stolen, you call the operator with a police incident number and the IMEI is blocked from all networks..

AT&T and Verizon didn't block them because they where profiting on stolen devices... they got a bit of a backlash this past year for it and now they are FINALLY doing this... they would allow stolen devices to be reactivated on the network so they could profit from the user that activated it.. fully knowing apparently the device was stolen

BGM said,
i thought this was common place? guess it's just Europe..

i.e. your handset is stolen, you call the operator with a police incident number and the IMEI is blocked from all networks..

I don't know about personal accounts, but I have a company account on both AT&T and Verizon and both have always allowed me to suspend numbers for any reason, no questions ask. The charge goes down to $10 a month and the phone is totally cut off from their network.

One thing I have always wished for was a way to report a phone as stolen and basically blacklist it from their network. Phone theft would probably go down if everyone knew that stealing a phone meant a high chance that it would become a brick (never able to be used on its network again). It wouldn't be that hard to implement. Just create a database of stolen IMEI numbers, then someone calls to activate the phone and is told “I am sorry, that phone was reported stolen and is banned from our network.”

Nevermind, after reading other articles, it sounds like this is exactly what I was hoping for. It isn't simply a matter of shutting off your own service, you have always been able to do that. This prevents anyone from ever using that phone again, even if they have their own account.

neufuse said,

AT&T and Verizon didn't block them because they where profiting on stolen devices... they got a bit of a backlash this past year for it and now they are FINALLY doing this... they would allow stolen devices to be reactivated on the network so they could profit from the user that activated it.. fully knowing apparently the device was stolen

Not to suggest that it didn't happen, but when did this happen? I don't remember the backlash. My brother had his iPhone 3G stolen years ago, and it was stupid that the best that he could do was deactivate his SIM card while both Apple and AT&T benefited from whatever future purchases were made with the phone.