Smartphone Theft and Kill Switches: What You Need to Know

In response to pressure from law enforcement officials and legislators across the country, some of the largest mobile phone manufacturers and mobile service providers have entered into a voluntary agreement to provide “Kill Switch” service to smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States, beginning in 2015, according to CTIA.

The service will attempt to deter theft by rendering a stolen smartphone useless to thieves by wiping the owner’s data, making the phone inoperable without a PIN code, and preventing unauthorized resets.

While the measure is definitely a step in the right direction toward curbing rampant cell phone thefts in the U.S., the earliest phones to employ the new technology won’t be manufactured until July 2015.

Additionally, the technology will be “opt-in”– meaning that the consumer would be required to sign up for the service.

So, unless you’re ready to upgrade your phone next summer, and you remember to sign up for the service, you won’t benefit from the anti-theft measures being taken at this time.

So, what should you do if your phone is stolen?

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to go after the thief yourself.  A recent study indicates that nearly 70% of those surveyed would risk harm to themselves in order to retrieve a stolen cell phone. News reports of people who’ve used the “Find my iPhone” and other smartphone locator apps to go after the thieves are shockingly common, and seem to confirm the study’s findings.

Yes, phones are expensive, and yes, they’re loaded with your personal business.  It’s still not worth ending up in the hospital, or worse, to try to get them back.

How about trying to avoid needing a “Kill Switch” at all?

Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Pay attention

If you’re constantly focused on texting, social media, or any other app on your phone, you’ll fail to notice the thug who’s about to grab your phone from your hands.

  • Put it away

Avoid using your phone when you’re walking down the street, riding public transportation, or sitting on a park bench.

  • Don’t forget

Did you know that almost half of cell phone thefts occur because the owner left his or her phone on the table in a restaurant, or on the bar, or somewhere else? If you’re forgetful, it may be best to just leave your phone in your purse or pocket.

 

 

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