AT&T might soon have a new system for reporting and blocking stolen phones next week.
According to The Verge, AT&T will start the new program next Tuesday, July 10. The system will let users block voice, data, and SMS service for individual phones and tablets. Unlike current locking methods the new blocking system won’t lock the SIM, so users can keep their accounts without any hassles whenever they get the phone back.
The new system will put the stolen or lost phones on a “blocklist.” According to a leaked AT&T internal message the carrier will cut off service for the phone “if any attempt is made to use a device that is stored in the blocklist.” To add a phone to the list AT&T customers have to call a and talk to a customer service representative.
Users that want to remotely erase their data on the phone have to do so before locking the phone.
Despite the “blocklist” The Verge‘s source claims AT&T “will have no directory of blocked phones.” To us that means AT&T will simply mark phones as blocked on a per-account basis without keeping a central list of all phones on the “blocklist.”
From the sounds of this early information it is similar to a service Verizon offers. Users can call in and report a phone lost. Verizon will disable calls and texts ont he device to prevent account charges, and if the device is recovered Verizon will turn service back on with no changes to the monthly plan or billing.
The plan sounds like a good idea, though it probably only a last resort for many users. Without data on the phone services like Find My iPhone won’t work, so it’s a better idea to attempt to track the phone before blocking it.