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Carriers to Help Government Block Service for Stolen Phones

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I'm surprised it has taken this long.

JestaMcMerv

Apr 9, 2012, 9:04 PM
I remember many years ago at AT&T this kid came in trying to activate a Blackberry. After looking up the IMEI it looked like it was still activated on a corp Lockheed Martin account. I remember at the time just shaking my head. He was asking me how to unlock the Blackberry and I explained to him that I couldn't because it was controlled by the BES.

Anyway, long story short kids are still gonna steal phones and light them up as burners on prepaid. Hopefully they institute some policy that they won't just sell SIM cards to non active devices. Or unless they do it through the back end where as they will disable IMEIs associated with the blacklist. That would be pretty sweet.

Then again, I guess this won't be a problem on the CDMA carrie...
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brad162

Apr 10, 2012, 12:11 AM
T-Mobile already does this in the backend for phones that are not "paid for" (bought on a 2yr, but someone bailed on contract without paying ETF or balance on EIP), they deny the IMEI any service on their network, so it can be done quite easily.
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phonemonkey

Apr 10, 2012, 3:07 AM
Anyone who is going to steal a cell phone is going to steal a cell phone, whether or not the value is any less than what it should be.
Stores will still give the same amount of cash as they do for phones with ESN's, broke or not broke.
Nothing will change except that all phones will fall into that category.
And they still flash them overseas.
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T Bone

Apr 10, 2012, 2:44 PM
Professional criminals will not be deterred because they will have tools to get around it yes.

But most cell phones are not stolen by professional criminals, far from it. Most cell phones are stolen by random people who see an unguarded cell phone and say 'hey...free cell phone!' and don't think through the consequences...

Measures like this will help to prevent that by making the stealing of cell phones to be too big of a headache for anyone but the professional criminals who are experts and won't be deterred anyway...
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Tofuchong

Apr 10, 2012, 3:09 PM
Only a complete idiot would get caught using a stolen Cell phone. There are virtually Zero consequences. Steal the phone, take the battery out, get it home and master reset it, or don't use it for a month to avoid possible 3rd party tracking applications, and boom. You have a free smartphone. Who cares if you cant use it on the cellular network? You got yourself a new mini tablet.
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T Bone

Apr 10, 2012, 9:16 PM
I don't think there is much of a market for that....people steal phones to either use themselves or sell them online....

If they know that when the phone is reported stolen it will be permanently deactivated and they will never be able to use it....there is less incentive to steal it....
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Tofuchong

Apr 10, 2012, 9:54 PM
I totally agree, but is that the case?

IMEI blocking does not totally disable a phone, it just blocks it from cellular connectivity, or am I wrong about that?

I was under the impression an IMEI blocked phone could still be used for Wifi, and other phone functions, just not have any connectivity to a cellular network, am I wrong ?
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T Bone

Apr 10, 2012, 9:56 PM
I think they are talking about doing more than just disabling the cellular connectivity, they are talking about completely bricking the phone, so that it cannot be used for anything, not even as an Mp3 player...
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tzsm98

Apr 11, 2012, 1:14 PM
The ability to totally brick a phone is limited to a subset of the phones stolen. (Apple for example) IMEI blocking is something that, if carriers share their block lists, can keep a stolen phone off the GSM/LTE/WCDMA networks.

Wifi works on many GSM phones without a SIM card present so those will always have some functionality if only through Skype and the browser. I do not know of a global way of blocking a MAC address which would allow device blocking from the Internet.

There is nothing that will stop a thief from thieving. This sort of deterrent is to keep the honest people honest.
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T Bone

Apr 11, 2012, 1:54 PM
The proposal that was under discussion a few weeks ago was allowing carriers to do a full bricking of a phone, and this can be done to any phone simply by sending out a malicious OTA update...I don't know if it was the full bricking that was approved however, they may have gone for something less extreme because bricking cannot be reversed.
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Tofuchong

Apr 11, 2012, 9:16 PM
Doesn't removing the SIM card stop OTA updates? If it does, then that is a situation easily avoided.
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T Bone

Apr 11, 2012, 11:34 PM
It does....it really just depends on how quickly the theft is reported......nothing is going to completely eliminate theft, but bricking of phones is done routinely in Europe, and the European experience shows that it does have a noticeable impact and helps to reduce the frequency of theft....
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GettingSleepy

Apr 10, 2012, 9:55 PM
Not being able to activate the phone won't stop people from stealing them and reselling them though.
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T Bone

Apr 10, 2012, 10:04 PM
But when people realize they were had, they'll probably be reported to the police, because it will become clear that they had purchased stolen property....
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GettingSleepy

Apr 11, 2012, 9:32 AM
That won't make a difference. We've had phones stolen out of our store off our displays before, the people were then stupid enough to activate the phones an hour later. We gave the police the thrives name, description, adders, and phone number. The police never did a thing.
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T Bone

Apr 11, 2012, 10:27 AM
My point is that if the thieves know they will be reported, there will be less incentive to steal the phone...

Some people are so stupid that they will do it anyway, that's where there's an entire TV series dedicated to 'America's Dumbest Criminals'.....but most people will have enough sense to try to stay under the radar and devote their time to some other criminal endeavor that carries less risk.
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mangobeach

Apr 10, 2012, 9:38 AM
Back when their was only the A Side & B Side carriers (Analog Phones), they had a system to block lost or stolen phones. Both carriers could see if the phone was lost or stolen nation wide. I am surprised that they didnt keep that in place.
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T Bone

Apr 10, 2012, 2:41 PM
I'm glad that they are saying it is being done 'in collaboration with law enforcement' so apparently there will need to be at the very least a police report or signed affidavit before this is done....because otherwise it will be a nightmare for customers and customer service.

One of the most common calls that customer service gets is a request to suspend service on a line, sometimes due to the phone being lost or stolen, but often simply out of spite.

This is most common with married couples heading for divorce, they reach a point where they go to war with each other, and the wireless carrier gets caught in the middle. So a husband, angry at his wife, calls to have her line suspended. The wife, when she finds out what happened, call...
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insider.

Apr 10, 2012, 5:30 PM
Good points! I was thinking about when a phone is reported LOST/STOLEN, then you find it over the weekend, but the GOVERNMENT DATABASE cannot be updated until after the weekend since they don't work. Then the government employee doesn't do it right and nobody can get their phones active anymore! BIG problems....all caused by the governent database.

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Now, give people the right to report a phone their account STOLEN and then permanently disconnect that phone....holy moly that is ripe for abuse.

There had better be some extremely tight regulations about this or it is likely to get very ugly, very fast.
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Mark_S

Apr 11, 2012, 6:24 AM
Go to any barber-shop in any gang-banger town, and regardless of the IMEI or ESN, there will be that guy who walks in with a hacked I-phone, Galaxy, etc., ready to sell and that loser ready to buy so he can say to his girlfriend "Look what I just bought for you!"
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T Bone

Apr 11, 2012, 10:36 AM
Look, nothing is going to completely eliminate all cell phone theft, save maybe putting a miniature atomic bomb into every phone which the user could then detonate after the phone is stolen, thereby killing the thief and everyone within a 30 mile radius of the thief....and even THAT wouldn't deter everybody because there would inevitably be some jackass who would convince himself that he could disarm the atomic bomb before the owner detonated it....

But what we are talking about is making this particular crime less attractive to criminals by increasing the risk and decreasing the potential reward...the fact that it won't guarantee a crime free utopia doesn't mean there is no value in doing it....especially since this is already been done ...
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Jarahawk

Apr 17, 2012, 5:03 PM
That would be horrible for law enforcement. Unemployment line here I come.
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