Wireless companies fight smartphone theft with database

In today's world, we live by our smartphones. From emailing, texting and shopping, to reading and even banking, we do it all on our phones.

But that also means our phones are full of our personal – and financial – information. And that's bad news if your phone is ever lost or stolen.

"It was definitely a growing problem," said AT&T spokesman Scott Huscher.

But Huscher says his company is doing something about it.

Last month, AT&T, along with T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, activated stolen-phone databases so customers can report and block stolen wireless devices.

Now, AT&T is taking it a step farther.

"When a customer loses their phone, or somebody steals their device, they can report to us and then their IMEI number goes into our database and we disable that."

In other words, "it renders it pretty much useless on our network," Huscher said.

So, if your phone is stolen, report it immediately to your wireless company. They can then add its identification number to their database. Then, if someone comes into a store with it and tries to activate it under a new account, they'll be stopped in the act.

"We will put it in the database and it will be disabled within 24 hours," Huscher said.

The long-term goal, according to Huscher, is that "people will know that if you try to steal a phone, there's really nothing you can do with it, so it's really not worth the risk."

So, what happens if someone shows up at an AT&T store with a phone that's been entered in the stolen-phone database? AT&T says they won't notify police, but they also won't reactivate the phone.

Has your phone been stolen? What did your wireless company do to help? Email me or go to my ABC15 Facebook page and tell me about it.

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