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Senator Schumer Asks Cellular Carriers To Deactivate Stolen Cell Phones

When cellular phones are stolen, often the cellular service provider remotely deactivate the SIM card in the stolen phone. While a deactivated SIM card prevents thieves from accessing the victim's contacts and email, thieves can insert a replacement SIM card and then either use or resell the stolen phone. To deter thefts, Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) believes that phone companies should do more.

Last week, the Senator wrote a letter to several cellular service providers asking them to deactivate stolen cellular phones. That would make it impossible for thieves to use or resell stolen cell phones. CBS New York reported that New York City ranks second behind Miami in the number of stolen cellular phones annually. According to data from the New York Police Department:

"Forty-one percent of all thefts in New York involve a cell phone, meaning the cell phone is stolen alone or the cell phone is stolen with other goods..."

According to the Senator, the technology already exists today to remotely deactivate stolen cellular phones. Reportedly, on Verizon currently deactivates stolen cell phones. AT&T, T-Mobile, Nextel, and other cellular service providers don't.

Yeshiva World reported:

"IMEI numbers, unlike SIM cards, are assigned exclusively to each cell phone and are not replicated. In the United Kingdom, carriers have the ability to disable handsets based on IMEIs, serial numbers, or other unique identifiers. This prevents criminals from swapping SIM cards to activate a stolen cell phone."

The Senator's proposal makes sense to me. When your credit card account is hacked or your credit card is stolen, your bank will issue you a replacement account and/or credit card. Cellular service providers can do the same.

What do you think of the Senator's proposal?


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Kevin Porter

Sounds like a pretty reasonable solution. I think people hang onto their phone numbers like their first love. As long as people can weigh the benefits of this type of system I think it would have a great effect.

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