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    Posted Feb 21, 2010
    9:36:47 PM
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    Can AT&T find my phone?
    I lost my iPhone. I think it's stolen. It's my fault, because I didn't secure it well. I've learned my lesson and now just want my phone back.
    Do I have any rights? Should I?

    This is mostly a technical question. I presume that AT&T has no desire to track my phone.
    - Can phone companies track phones by IMEI?
    - Can they ping the hardware through the cell system?
    - Can they understand the new phone # of the machine if the new owner has changed it?
    - Can they send a message to or call the phone informing the owner "This is stolen"or "We know where you are"
     
    The non-technical part:
    - Are there initiatives to create a compulsory US or international IMEI database? I'd surely want to support it
    - Would it be to AT&T's advantage to actually find my phone and charge me for the service?

    Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 21, 2010 9:38:33 PM
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    They can, but they only do that if there is a court order, for liability reasons I guess.
    *I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s position, strategies or opinions.

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 21, 2010 9:56:38 PM
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    Master

    There is nothing ATT can do.  ATT will not track your phone and US carriers to not have an IMEI blacklist database.

     

    You would have needed to have something implimented like MobileMe (Find my iPhone) or ATTs FamilyMap before it was lost.  Then you would have been able to track the device if it was turned on and the SIM card was not removed from the phone.  You could try to add the ATT FamilyMap however its a moot point because as soon as you register the number the system sends a text message to the device letting whoever has the phone know that it can be tracked.  That would just let them know to remove the SIM or turn it off.  This was done so that FamilyMap could not be used to spy on family members or co-workers without their knowlege.

     

    If the person that stole the phone changes the SIM card in the phone there is nothing that can be done to stop them from using the phone.

     

    No there is no legislation in the works to have blacklisting implimented in the US. 

     

     

    If you have not yet, you should report the phone lost/stolen with ATT.  This prevents you from being responsible for any charges made by the phone after you have reported it.  You are responsible for all charges until then.

     


    Question:
    How can I report a lost or stolen phone?
    Answer:
    If your phone is lost or stolen, you can suspend your wireless service to protect against unauthorized charges. Once suspended, no incoming or outgoing calls can be placed or received using your phone. Data services, access to voicemail and access to call forwarding will also be suspended.  Suspending your wireless service does not release your wireless phone number - it will be retained for you.   
      
    You can report your phone as lost or stolen by logging into myWireless Account and following these instructions:
    1. From the myWireless Account home page, select My Services.
    2. Select the Suspend/Reactivate link in the right hand navigation section under Phone/Device Support.
    3. Review the list of lines on your account. If a line is not already suspended, you'll see Active in the Status column.
    4. Click the Suspend button that corresponds to your lost or stolen phone line.
    5. Confirm your transaction.
    6. If you have Wireless Phone Insurance, you can file a replacement request simply by calling 1-888-562-8662.
    7. If you do not have Wireless Phone Insurance, visit the following topic for options on replacing your phone:  How do I replace a lost or stolen phone?

    To reactivate a line:
    1. From the myWireless Account home page, select My Services.
    2. Select the Suspend/Reactivate link in the right hand navigation section under Phone/Device Support.
    3. Review the list of lines on your account. If a line has already been reported as lost or stolen, you'll see Lost&Suspended in the Status column.
    4. Click the Activate button that corresponds to your lost or stolen phone line.
    5. Confirm your transaction.
    6. To ensure the phone is working properly, please test both incoming and outgoing calls.

    You must be registered and logged into myWireless Account to report your phone as lost or stolen online. For assistance with login and registration, please choose one of the following topics:


    How do I register for myWireless Account?
    How do I login to myWireless Account?
    What if I forgot my password for myWireless Account?

     

     

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 21, 2010 10:04:56 PM
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    Thanks, Planet-Ed,

    My frustration is probably evident: Why would the IIMEI system not be used to stop phone theft once and for all?

    I understand that (1) AT&T profits from selling new devices and (2) there'll be privacy concerns if an IMEI database is not designed well.

     

    I did suspend my service. 

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 21, 2010 10:32:43 PM
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    There a lots of flaws with the blacklisting as its done in a few other countries with reliability (being able to move devices between carriers) and the process to unlist devices once blacklisted.  Since there is no shared database sometimes the devices are not fully delisted when found.  There are issues with devices listed that have been stolen or just out of spite with spouses and signicant others, expecially when sharing an account when the non-primary account holder can hold the other user hostage.  There needs to be better protection.  There is no large international database which is really what would be need to make it effective.  Thatsjust barely scratching the surface.

     

    There are several articles on the subject that I have read and honestly I'm not convinced with the blacklisting process.  It needs a lot of work before its something I would vote for it.

     

    I'd sooner vote for tracking of the IMEI by police only long before accepting the blacklisting of devices.

     

    For me positive control is the first line of defense.  Most theft are from leaving devices in places like cars, gym lockers, out in the open in places, carelessly leaving them places etc etc.  Very few phones are stolen directly via muggings and such.

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 22, 2010 6:42:32 AM
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    That makes sense, Planet-Ed,

    My next move is probably the Nexus One. I am hostage to the lack of desire or ability of carriers to stop theft; and to my own mistake, of course.

     

    It'd seem that carriers' profits are the only thing stopping an effective IMEI database. From a process point of view, it's doable

    - Set up a non-profit consortium of major int'l carriers to develop the database

    - Invest in the non-profit for software development and servers (well, use Google for the searches)

    - Define strict rules of engagement (e.g., quick sharing of updates, confirmations of delisting)

    - Charge me for the service when I use it -- to cover the search costs and make a buck on the customer service

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 22, 2010 11:03:50 AM
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    I wish we had more free options for phone loss/theft.  Maybe in the future?

    Your best bet is to call the phone in lost/stolen.So someone cannot put unwanted charges on your bill.

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 23, 2010 10:16:52 PM
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    And this is never going to happen.  You're right, profit is the primary motivator behind not stopping this behavior.  If industrialized nations adopted this kind of system, phones would be unlocked and shipped to developing nations that aren't as technologically savvy.

     


    cryout wrote:

    That makes sense, Planet-Ed,

    My next move is probably the Nexus One. I am hostage to the lack of desire or ability of carriers to stop theft; and to my own mistake, of course.

     

    It'd seem that carriers' profits are the only thing stopping an effective IMEI database. From a process point of view, it's doable

    - Set up a non-profit consortium of major int'l carriers to develop the database

    - Invest in the non-profit for software development and servers (well, use Google for the searches)

    - Define strict rules of engagement (e.g., quick sharing of updates, confirmations of delisting)

    - Charge me for the service when I use it -- to cover the search costs and make a buck on the customer service


     

     

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 24, 2010 6:30:38 AM
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    BrainfromNO,

    I welcome thinking ahead -- you're right that with such a system stolen phones will have to be sent outside of the system's coverage.

    However, this will be impractical for the criminals: (1) the shipping costs will beat the price they can get in the 3rd world and (2) consumers in countries without wide and cheap wireless internet access have less need for smartphones. On the other hand, I also welcome making criminals' lives harder.

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 24, 2010 8:49:34 AM
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    Smurfette27 wrote:

    I wish we had more free options for phone loss/theft.  Maybe in the future?

    Your best bet is to call the phone in lost/stolen.So someone cannot put unwanted charges on your bill.


    You get FREE cheese only in a rat's trap. 

     

    *I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s position, strategies or opinions.

    Re: Can AT&T find my phone?

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    Feb 24, 2010 10:18:17 AM
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    You can imagineer all you want, but the bottom line is this - unless mandated by law, the wireless carriers have ZERO impetus to deal with this.  And it's not just a technical limitation; the business processes required to support this kind of initiative would be labor-intensive, expensive, and produce little effect on the bottom line.  You're talking about a manhour-intensive operation that would have to work with law enforcement, and would be subject to separation of duties (so that one person couldn't maliciously turn off someone else's phone). 

     

    Each request like this would likely involve at least 3 employees, not including the time and effort of law enforcement officers.  You'd have one person taking the case, over the phone or via a web site or email.  You'd have another person who would have to verify the facts of the case, and then likely turn that over to a third person who would give final approval to blacklist the phone.  This would all be in the name of shielding the company from liability if a jealous significant other decided to turn off their partner's phone, particularly if he or she did so with malicious intent.  Pie in the sky ideas are great, but they often wither when the rubber meets the road of implementation.

     

    AT&T, as with any wireless carrier, is a service provider, and not a parental figure or big brother.  It's each individual's responsibility to watch out for his or her property; unfortunately, even the most diligent may be a victim of theft.  It's also that person's responsibility to ensure that personal data on the phone is adequately protected and can be remotely erased if the phone is lost or compromised.

     


    cryout wrote:

    BrainfromNO,

    I welcome thinking ahead -- you're right that with such a system stolen phones will have to be sent outside of the system's coverage.

    However, this will be impractical for the criminals: (1) the shipping costs will beat the price they can get in the 3rd world and (2) consumers in countries without wide and cheap wireless internet access have less need for smartphones. On the other hand, I also welcome making criminals' lives harder.


     

     

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