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AT&T Cellphones Crime Iphone Security The Courts Apple

iPhone Users Sue AT&T For Letting Thieves Re-Activate Their Stolen Devices 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-phone-is-not-very-loyal dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following on the heels of the FCC and U.S. mobile carriers finally announcing plans to create a national database for stolen phones, a group of iPhone users filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T on Tuesday claiming that it has aided and abetted cell phone thieves by refusing to brick stolen cell phones. AT&T has '[made] millions of dollars in improper profits, by forcing legitimate customers, such as these Plaintiffs, to buy new cell phones, and buy new cell phone plans, while the criminals who stole the phone are able to simply walk into AT&T stories and 're-activate' the devices, using different, cheap, readily-available 'SIM' cards,' states their complaint. AT&T, of course, says the suit is 'meritless.'"
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iPhone Users Sue AT&T For Letting Thieves Re-Activate Their Stolen Devices

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  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:22PM (#39679633)
    If customers reported their iPhones as stolen and had all of the necessary details (serial number, IMEI number, etc) that could uniquely identify their phones, then this suit may well have merit. This info is likely in either their system or Apple's system, especially if they both track serial numbers through sales and registration. If thieves are bringing stolen phones in and that data is in their system then they damned well should be doing something about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:24PM (#39679653)

    If I call AT&T or its agent and tell them that my phone has been stolen, then they are engaging in a criminal act when they reactivate that phone. There are no legitimate excuses for this behavior.

    If somebody steals a car that is equipped with a kill-switch in the engine and I, knowing that it is stolen, disables the kill switch so that the thief can drive the car, then I'm going to go to prison. The only difference between my behavior and AT&T's is that I am not a massive corporation, so I am subject to the laws of the United States.

  • by aztracker1 (702135) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:37PM (#39679793) Homepage
    Yea, but the DMV doesn't issue a new registration tag to the theif.
  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:44PM (#39679887)

    No, but if the thief tried to register that car, it would show up as stolen and the DMV would not allow him to register it under his name. They call the police.

    Why is it so unreasonable that AT&T do the same? They can tell the damn phone is registered to someone else, they can't take a minute to see if it was stolen or not? How many people sell cell phones to strangers with all their personal information on them? I mean, really?

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday April 13, 2012 @05:15PM (#39680235)

    The point is, obviously they could do something, they just choose not to because it benefits them financially.

    And that in turn benefits America, because when a corporation makes a profit, that creates jobs, which improves the economy. So why the hell are you doing your patriotic duty and stealing from your fellow citizens so you can give to the corporation?

    On a less sarcastic note, the police have often refused to get involved even after a police report is filed _and_ the person knows exactly where the cell phone is (hello? They're radio transmitters). Police resources are only used in cases of violence, property damage, or theft of corporate property. Theft of private property is just... not important.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Friday April 13, 2012 @05:17PM (#39680263)

    I fail to see how these companies could validate with 100% certainty that the device reported stolen actually belong to the owners that claimed to own them. This is important; because if you can't validate the owner with 100% certainty, then you open the door to situations where person A falsly reports persons B's phone stolen and gets it bricked. This would be a denial of service prank/attach and I'm sure it would be a much larger liability for AT&T than simply letting theives reactivate a device that was obtained nefariously. Are they going to make everyone that claims to have a phone stolen produce a receipt to validate ownersihp? To requre AT&T to get involved would be a disaster. When you require/allow corporations to get involved in things that should ONLY be law enforcement investigations, then you open a whole new can of worms.

    It's been done in just about every other country in the world for some time now. The process works, and it also cuts WAY down on smartphone theft. In Washington, DC (where I live) there has been a rash of armed holdups for smartphones for some time now, and the chief of police has been begging AT&T (because iPhones are the prime target...sorry Android users) to do this. Police departments in cities all over the country have been calling for this to be done.

    Yes, it's possible to cause trouble for someone else by filing a false police report. It's also a felony, and quite certain to get you caught. I could cause trouble for you by claiming you stole my phone. But then, AT&T would happen to have that phone associated with your name, SSN, credit card, address, and blood type...and would have had that association for quite some time. So, I would go to jail instead. Following your logic, we shouldn't allow people to say that their cars were stolen, either, because I could just walk up to you in your car and say "THIEF!" and send you to prison while I drive away in your vehicle.

  • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3@phroBOYSENggy.com minus berry> on Friday April 13, 2012 @11:12PM (#39682781) Homepage

    On a less sarcastic note, the police have often refused to get involved even after a police report is filed _and_ the person knows exactly where the cell phone is (hello? They're radio transmitters). Police resources are only used in cases of violence, property damage, or theft of corporate property. Theft of private property is just... not important.

    They're right, it's not important, compared to catching murderers and rapists and the like. The problem isn't that the police don't care about less important cases like the theft of an iPhone. The problem is that we as a society have decided that WE don't care enough to properly fund our police departments, so that they can handle these less important cases in addition to the more important ones.

    Every time you vote to reduce taxes, and vote for politicians who say the government is too big, this is what you're voting for.

There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about. -- John von Neumann

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