AT&T to launch service to report and block stolen phones

The service would allow customers to block access to a phone or tablet while keeping their account intact.

AT&T plans to launch a service that will allow customers to report and block stolen mobile devices.

The service was initially reported by the Verge earlier today.

The service would let a customer block data, voice, and text message access to the phone or tablet but keep their account information in place, avoiding the hassle of creating a new account and SIM card.

It's part of a broader effort the national carriers agreed to in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission. In April, the carriers agreed to work together to compile and manage a database of stolen phones, preventing them from being reused.

An AT&T representative confirmed that the service, which will launch next week, is the first step in that initiative. The company said it is working on a cross-carrier service for later this year.

The database is a list of stolen devices that will be blocked out of future use. The hope is that thieves will be deterred from stealing a phone if it will inevitably become "bricked," eliminating its value for resale.

Customers can add a device to the list by calling customer service directly, and customers with remote-wipe capabilities will be asked to erase the device's content before it is blocked.

Security has become a bigger part of the carriers' focus, and in particular the protection of personal data. Carriers such as AT&T and Sprint Nextel have increasingly talked security as an additional feature.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.


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