Database to help stop use of stolen phones

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - If you've ever lost your cell phone, or someone stole it, you know just how frustrating it can be.

And when someone can take your phone, and make their own, it seems you're out of luck.

Now, authorities want to discourage cell phone theft and teach users how to protect themselves.

The FCC wants carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, who cover 90 percent of the U.S. cell subscribers, to start a database to prevent stolen phones and data.

It will be a list with serial numbers of stolen or lost devices. If someone tries to activate the stolen phone, it will be on the national list and won't work.

Andrea Shovan at JCS Wireless says they already have a similar practice, but it's for each provider.

"We have a tool that we can use on our Verizon site that we can look up the ESN, or serial number of the phone, and that will tell us if it's been put on a list, lost or stolen, at that point we would call Verizon, you know check on it, if it's a phone that somebody's had that they've lost in the past, then they can authorize it to be taken off of that list," said Shovan.

If you lose your phone, or suspect someone stole it, Shovan said to call your cell phone provider to report the item.

"I can remember a gentleman brought one in that he bought at a yard sale, and we tried to put it on the line, and it came back that it was hot, it was legitimate, it was a customer that we've had for a long time," said Shovan. "So he took it to the police department and turned it in."

With the new database, the carriers will share the serial numbers so it won't just be within one provider as it is now.

"If a phone is lost or stolen and you turn it in, they completely wipe it from the system, it no longer exists, and then that way no one can take it to another carrier, get a new SIM card, get it turned on, so we are going to have something like that it looks like," said Shovan.

The FCC expects providers to put it in place within 6 months in the US and globally within the next 18-months.

You can read the release, and more information from the FCC here.

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