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Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Wireless Carriers to Block Stolen Phones


Wireless carriers on Tuesday announced the creation of a database of cell phone IDs to help prevent theft and reactivation of stolen or lost devices.

Within six months, when Americans call their participating wireless provider and report their wireless devices stolen, their provider will block that device from being used again. This system will be rolling out globally using common databases across carriers over the next 18 month, said the Federal Communications Commission.

The database will allow consumers to notify their wireless provider of a theft and in turn their provider will block the device from being used again.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Nextel Corp and T-Mobile USA will share the database.

Members of Congress are planning to introduce legislation that will make it a federal crime to take steps to evade the effective deployment of a stolen phone database, including by tampering with hardware identifiers on wireless devices.

The FCC also announced industry plans to better educate consumers on how to combat cell phone and data theft. Carriers should encourage users to lock their phones with passwords. According to the plans, smartphone makers will notify and educate users in the most highly visible ways?through messages on the smartphone itself and through "Quick Start"user guides?about how to use passwords to deter theft and protect their data.

Wireless providers will directly inform their customers about how to find and use applications that enable customers to lock/locate/and wipe smartphones remotely.

The wireless industry will also launch a campaign, with media buys, to educate consumers on how to protect their smartphones and themselves from crime.


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