Feeds

North Americans just don't steal handsets, apparently...

Rogers dodgers

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Back in 2005, when he lost his three-day-old Motorola v 635, Pete Gillespie immediately phoned his cell provider, Canada's Rogers Wireless. Among other things, he urged the cellco giant to blacklist the phone's IMEI number so that miscreants couldn't reconnect his $600 purchase to the Canadian airwaves. But the company said it didn't do such things.

Then, just this week, Gillespie lost a second phone: his Blackberry 8820. And three years on, Rogers again said it doesn't do IMEI blacklisting. "They won't trace the IMEI in any way to see if the phone is back on the network, and if there's a GPS in the phone, they won't use that to recover the thing," Gillespie tells The Reg. "They just say that these are things their network does not support."

Among North American wireless providers, Rogers is not alone. Though most of western Europe has spent the past several years blacklisting the IMEI numbers of lost and stolen phones, US and Canadian providers continue to ignore the practice.

"Presently, we don't have any North American operators connected to our [IMEI blacklist] database," says James Moran, fraud and security director of the GSM Association (GSMA). "When we've raised the issue with these operators in the past, what they've said is that handset theft has not been an issue North America - or least not to the same degree it has been in Europe and the rest of the world."

This is not an argument Moran is inclined to believe. But he does say that just this week, a Canadian provider phoned him to "express interest" in IMEI blacklisting. "Though we haven't heard anything from the US," he added.

Scandinavian operators have been sharing stolen handset data since the mid-nineties. And early this decade, the GSMA standardized the practice, urging member companies to blacklist according to the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number that uniquely identifies each GSM and 3G handset. That includes North American members. But six years on, they've yet fall in line.

Nonetheless, a Rogers spokeswoman tells us the company "is very concerned about the trends in handset theft and its impact to our handset manufacturing partners, our distribution channels and our customers." The company also says its "always reviewing its policies." But at the moment, those policies are behind the times.

This morning, when Pete Gillespie spoke to someone from Rogers "Customer Relations" team, she confirmed that any lost or stolen could easily be reactivated on the company's network. But she also told Gillespie it was his responsibility to lock his own phone. "When I told her that a simple re-flashing of the phone would remove any such locks," Gillespie says, "she did not have much of a response."

More importantly, IMEI blacklisting would discourage handset theft. But North American providers aren't likely to acknowledge this unless they first acknowledge that handsets do indeed get stolen. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.