AT&T and T-Mobile recently announced they would start to share a combined database of stolen mobile devices that aspires to discourage theft and shield customers.

All the major carriers, through their wireless association CTIA and the Federal Communications Commission, first revealed plans in April to merge their respective databases, but AT&T and T-Mobile were the first to do so yesterday.

CNET specifically elaborated on how the joint database works:

The database went live yesterday, and allows either AT&T or T-Mobile to block a device from being used on either network. In order to do that, the companies ban a device’s IMEI number — a unique identifier that tells networks what the device is and who owns it — and effectively stop it from being able to place calls.

In the past, stolen smartphones were blocked by eliminating the use of a SIM card. However, in the GSM world, a phone can be used with any SIM card. So, if a thief stole a device and popped in a new SIM card, it would still work. By targeting the IMEI number, that’s no longer the case.

Sprint and Verizon are expected join the initiative by November 2013.

(source CNET via IDG News Service)

This article is cross-posted on 9to5Mac.

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