Many modern smartphones have built-in features (or support apps) which allow you to locate, lock, and/or wipe your phone if it has been stolen. This works well enough, but it’s still possible for the thief to reset the device (thereby removing any data left on it), swap out the SIM, and begin using their new illicitly-acquired smartphone. A new service from AT&T, however, aims to prevent the thefts from ever occurring at all by turning stolen devices into paperweights.
The service, which is reportedly set to launch on Tuesday of next week, allows you to block any smartphone or tablet on AT&T’s network. Think of it like a perma-ban, blocking all incoming and outgoing voice, data, and SMS. Any attempt to use this blocklisted device on another line will result in an immediate suspension. As a result, stolen devices will essentially become a paperweight, good only for WiFi connectivity. This feature will work with all of AT&T’s plans – postpaid, prepaid (GoPhone), and All Channels – but network representatives request that remote data wipe apps be used before the device is placed on the blocklist. If, by some stroke of luck, you manage to recover your device, AT&T will happily unblock it provided you’re the one who originally requested the block.