AT&T to Begin Blocking Stolen Phones July 10

On July 10, AT&T will begin blocking phones that have been reported to a customer service representative as stolen. This will prevent the phone from being able to access data, text, or voice services but it does leave the account open rather than blocking the SIM entirely.

A message was sent to AT&T customer service reps on Wednesday according to unnamed sources The Verge characterized as “trusted.” The message detailed the policies around this new service.

AT&T’s message to representatives. Courtesy of The Verge.

If a phone or tablet is stolen, the owner must contact a customer support representative. If the device is capable of a remote data wipe, that must be done before the device is placed on the list of stolen devices. Once it is on the list, if the device attempts to use data, text, or voice services it will immediately be denied service.

If the device is returned or found, the block can be removed but only by the person that originated the block request in the first place. This implies that there will be a database of stolen devices and who reported it, even though the source claimed that  AT&T would have no directory of blocked phones.

In April, AT&T along with the other major carriers agreed to work with the FCC to create a database of stolen phones in an effort to reduce their resale value. That database is meant to be a central repository of all stolen devices, but each carrier was to create it’s own database within six months. The carrier databases would then be combined into a central database within 12 months after that. AT&T is the first to make this available.