Cell phones being stolen is a pretty profitable business. You steal a cell phone and cell it on the street for $50 – $100 (my guess). The reason this has worked is because stolen cell phones could be easily programmed to work on a cellular network.
Now wireless carriers will create a shared database of stolen cell phones – phones on this list can’t be connected to a cellular network. Nice.
Carriers will roll out their own individual databases within six months. The individual databases will be integrated and centralized over the 12 months thereafter. Smaller, regional wireless carriers are expected to join the database over two years, according to a person familiar with the plan. As part of the agreement, wireless carriers will also roll out initiatives to encourage mobile-phone users to set up passwords on their devices to deter theft.
Design of the stolen-phone database is complicated by the fact that the carriers use very different cellphone technologies. Verizon and Sprint operate what is known as a CDMA network. A CDMA handset possesses an electronic serial number on the device itself, which enables the two companies to block handsets from being reactivated if they are stolen.
How can you prevent your cell phone from being stolen and be prepared when it is stolen?
- Be vigilant. Many cell phones are stolen because people are not aware of where their cell phone is
- Encrypt any personally identifiable information on the phone
- Install phone tracking software (there are many apps and services to track your phone)
- Use mobile device management services that can remotely erase your data and more (again there are many good solutions that your local IT consultant can point you to)
- Install physical locking hardware or alarms on your mobile devices (Kensington has many solutions)