According to the New York Times, the FCC plans to implement a stolen wireless phone database in an attempt to preclude theft and shut thieves down, regardless of interchangeable simm cards. Today, if a cell phone or smart phone is stolen, all is needed is another compatible simm card for criminals to make the stolen phone to work. This makes it easy for criminals to commandeer wireless devices and turn them over for a quick profit. Note that Verizon and Sprint already block stolen wireless phones from reactivation, however, that still leaves other wireless carrier phones vulnerable to theft.
Moreover, according to the Times article, many stolen wireless phones are often used in robberies and other high profile crimes, therefore, tracking of stolen phones may help minimize those kinds of criminal activities and help aid in investigations. In recent remarks on the stolen cell phones initiative by the chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, he emphasized the growing problem of cell phone thefts, “In DC, New York and other major cities, roughly 40% of all robberies now involve cell phones –endangering both the physical safety of victims and the safety of the personal information on stolen devices. In D.C., the percentage of robberies involving cell phones is up 54% since 2007. Over the last several months we have heard from Senator Schumer, who called this vital issue to our attention and made it a priority.” The new stolen phone database could be a great help to wireless consumers if properly administered. Perhaps this action will also result in more people returning found cell phones to their proper owners once they realize knowledge that they cannot use the phone without being discovered. The FCC chairman also vowed to hold quarterly meetings to keep current on the growing problem of cell phones theft.
The FCC chairman went on to say that he was sending a message to consumers that “we’ve got their backs” on this issue. The specifics of the new FCC plan to combat wireless device theft are as follows:
1. Creating a database to prevent use of stolen smartphones and tablets. This database will enable
carriers to disable stolen smartphones and tablets, dramatically reducing their value on the black
2. Putting in place automatic prompts on smartphones and tablets for consumers to set up passwords
and take steps to secure their devices
3. Launching a public education campaign urging consumers to use applications that increase
security and reducing the value of stolen devices, including apps that enable consumers to locate,
lock and wipe missing smartphones and tablets. This campaign begins with an FCC tip-sheet we
are issuing today, and we’ll work with the police chiefs, the industry and Congress to spread the
I recall a few years ago when my teenage son once lost his new $400 (retail cost) AT&T wireless smartphone which had fallen out of a car onto a sidewalk to be found by someone else. Later, I called the phone and a young male answered. When I asked if he could return our wireless phone with no questions asked for a reward, he simply hung up on me, surely knowing that the phone was now his and there was no way I could track him. Talk about feeling totally helpless! The next stop for that smartphone was probably craigslist and the finder of the smartphone could convert his lucky find to quick cash with no consequences. One can only hope that kind of criminal behavior will stop with the new database. It is refreshing to see that the FCC and Congress who pushed for the new database seem to be helping consumers who are being victimized by wireless phone theft! In summary, as I see new initiatives by the FCC like this and for other consumer protections like hacking prevention and stopping telecom cramming, I am highly encouraged by this kind of progress.
This telecommunications article is brought to you by BottaBoom Consulting LLC., a telephone cost recovery service located in Tucson Arizona. BottaBoom has been providing successful professional business telecommunications audit services for nationwide consumers for over 20 years. You can contact the telecom audit professionals at 1-888-487-5326.