5 Ways Mobile Carriers Prevent Smartphone Theft
Mobile carriers are losing billions of dollars in revenue because of large amounts of stolen smartphones. Whether people are stealing these smartphones from shipments or off of shelves, the robberies are increasing worldwide at rate of about 200% year-over-year.
Reportedly, the US has lost over 4 million pre-paid devices, costing approximately $900 million. In addition, Verizon has reported that roughly 7,000 of its customers are affected by smartphone theft crimes every month. That’s 84,000 customers a year for just the one carrier.
How Carriers Can Stop Smartphone Theft
Mobile carriers are actively working to stop smartphone theft. Here are five ways mobile carrier companies can make an effort to stop the problem from persisting.
Manual Unlock Codes
Most carriers already use manual unlock codes. They are used when a consumer is looking to switch carriers but keep their device. However, receiving your manual unlock code can be a lengthy process.
While this type of security does add a layer of protection, it is easily hacked and only protects devices after they are activated by users. This means that while the devices are in transit, they are vulnerable to being stolen.
Add an Anti-theft Software
Carriers can utilize anti-theft software that works as a “kill switch.” This function allows the consumer to remotely deactivate their smartphone if it is stolen. By deactivating the phone makes it is useless to the thief. However, this anti-theft software only benefits the device once it is registered to the consumer, making it vulnerable theft until that point.
Temporary Lock Periods After Purchase
Verizon is the only mobile carrier that reportedly still sells unlocked devices. However, the carrier is exploring a new software which puts a temporary lock period on each device to prevent customers from switching to another carrier for 60 days after purchase. After this two-month fraud-safety period, the phones unlock automatically.
Hardware-Based Protection Embedded in Smartphone
This tool embeds remote lock and unlock technology into a device’s secure hardware during the manufacturing process, giving carriers full control. This prevents stolen devices to be unlocked and reused by the obtainer.
Layered Approach to Deterring Theft
Lastly, the best approach to protecting smartphone theft is for carriers to use a layered approach. Putting more than one security measure in place helps make sure that any area of vulnerability is covered. Here’s what this layered approach looks like:
- Make sure devices are embedded with secure unlock and lock technology
- Make sure devices have a software kill switch
Covering these bases can help carriers significantly reduce smartphone theft, and help save millions.