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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

Stolen smartphone database should reduce thefts



By Clark Howard


Your wireless carrier is about to take a bite out of one of the nation's fastest-growing crimes. There's a new database of stolen cell phone numbers aimed to combat the rash of smart phone thefts around the country.

Half of Americans now have a smart phone, which gives them a real value upon resale -- even if the people reselling them are crooks who stole them in the first place.

If you go on Craigslist, it's shocking how many smart phones you'll see for sale. There are literally hundreds available, including every fancy smart phone out there.

To combat the problem of crooks stealing and then reselling smart phones, the nation's wireless carriers have reached a deal with the feds to compile serial numbers (ESNs) when phones are reported stolen. Having that info will allow the carriers to block voice and data service to those units.

If your phone is stolen, report it to your wireless carrier and they'll enter your number in the database. More info on this initiative is available at FCC.gov.

In the meantime, if you have an Android or iPhone, here are some free apps for download that will help to locate a stolen phone and possibly deactivate the content on it before a criminal can breach your data.