AT&T will launch a new service for reporting and blocking stolen phones, reports The Verge. The service will allow customers to deny voice, data and SMS access to any individual phone or tablet while keeping their account intact.
The company sent a message (above) to customer service representatives on Wednesday advising them of the change. AT&T will compile a “blocklist” of stolen devices and service will be automatically suspended “if any attempt is made to use a device that is stored in the blocklist.”
The only way to add a device to the list will be by contacting a customer service representative directly, and users with remote data wipe apps will be required to activate them before suspending their device, to “prevent access to their personal information.”
The move follows April’s announcement of a national database of stolen phones, to be maintained by the four major US carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint — in co-operation with the FCC.
One out of three robberies nationwide have involved the theft of a cellphone, according to an F.C.C. summary of the new plan. The thefts have grown most rapidly in urban areas; cellphones are stolen in more than 40 percent of all robberies in New York City and 38 percent of robberies in the District of Columbia, according to the groups.
The Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2012 (S.3186) would make it a federal crime to tamper with the unique identification number of a cellphone.