If you've ever had your smartphone stolen, then you know how painful it can be. Now, AT&T and T-Mobile are teaming up in an effort to ease the pain by combating smartphone theft.
AT&T just completed the second phase of its stolen-phone database, which lets customers report and block stolen wireless devices. Practically speaking, this means AT&T can now share data on stolen phones with other carriers that use GSM technology -- and that paves the way for reported stolen phones to be disabled on AT&T's network. T-Mobile is the only other major GSM carrier in the U.S.
"As part of our many efforts to address this important issue, we launched a new Web site in May to help educate our customers on protecting their wireless device, and in July we began the initial phase of our stolen phone database," said Bob Quinn, senior vice president of Federal Regulatory and chief privacy officer. "Our customers' safety is a top priority for AT&T, and we look forward to continuing our work in this area."
Deterring Smartphone Thefts
AT&T's effort to combat smartphone theft began earlier this year. AT&T joined Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier, NYPD Deputy Chief Phil Pulaski and other wireless carriers at an event to discuss the growing problem of wireless device theft.
CTIA-The Wireless Association and the participating wireless companies, along with FCC and law enforcement officials, announced four voluntary steps the wireless industry would take to deter smartphone thefts and protect consumer data. Included in the four steps was a database designed to prevent GSM smartphones that were reported as stolen from being activated or provided service in the U.S. by Oct. 31, 2012.
The Consumer's Part
Steve Largent, CTIA president and CEO, said his organization and its member companies have always been advocates for wireless users' safety.
"While the GSM and CDMA databases are important, consumers also play a key role in protecting their information and preventing smartphone theft. By using passwords or PINs, as well as remote wiping capabilities, consumers can help to dry up the aftermarket for stolen devices," Largent said.
"Today's average wireless user stores a lot of personal information on a mobile device, such as pictures, video, banking and other sensitive data. It's important consumers know that by taking simple precautions, such as downloading a few apps, they can protect their information from unauthorized users."
AT&T customers can report a stolen phone and suspend service online at www.att.com/stolenphone, at an AT&T store, or by contacting AT&T Customer Care at (800) 331-0500. Within 24 hours, AT&T will block the use of a device reported as stolen.