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What To Do When You Lose Your iPhone

Posted November 19, 2007 5:00 AM by Gregory Ng
Categories: News 

In the event of a lost iPhone you have the right to be able to scream, kick, curse, and throw a temper tantrum for as long as you want. You can also decide to file a police report. But you won’t be able to find out if the thief reactivated the iPhone under their own name through AT&T. So says, Sonicsoul on the Apple Discussions page.

If the thief decides to, he can activate the phone via iTunes. AT&T will then know that an iPhone reported lost/stolen is now activated under a different account. This is because of the unique IMEI number the phone carries (google it). They will bill the thief, and provide him with customer service just like any other loyal AT&T customer is entitled to. Unfortunately, they will not tell you, their other loyal customer, if the phone has been activated or any other information you request. Your only option is to file a police report and convince a detective to call AT&T and subpoena the account information of the newly activated phone.

According to a bunch of other posters, this is commonplace for other phones and other phone companies. So I guess the bottom line is if you lose you riPhone, you might as well save your breath and start saving to buy another one.


  1. If this is true, and there seems to be no reason to doubt it…

    Then it is time for some consumer action and ultimately consumer legislation.  If the IMEI numbers on all phones (not just iphones) can be used to track stolen phones…the carrier industry should be required to voluntarily and promptly cooperate in discovering the use of stolen phones and thief’s identity, upon presentation of a police report.

    This could be easily handled by the carrier’s computers.  People could verify if a phone offered on ebay is stolen.  Car breakins and phone thefts could be prevented.  Tracking stolen phones could also lead to solving other crimes.

    Posted by hardmanb on November 19, 2007 1:33 PM
  2. Well the short answer is that both Apple & AT&T could alert the police if they wanted to. However I doubt they will unless compelled to by law.

    Posted by Greg on November 19, 2007 7:37 PM
  3. Mine’s set on auto-destruct in case of loss. smile

    Posted by Partners in Grime on November 20, 2007 12:30 AM
  4. Surely this isn’t true in the US? In the UK, if you report your phone as stolen, the mobile carrier can ensure that phone is not used again, anywhere.

    What kind of backward company allows a criminal to use someone else’s phone? Oh yeah, AT&T. I forgot.

    Posted by Andy Merrett on November 20, 2007 6:24 AM
  5. AT&T said once they de-activate the phone (upon notification of a lost or stolen phone), no one can activate the phone unless they have the billing info and last 4 digits of the owner’s social. Cross your fingers….

    Posted by mrpm on December 9, 2007 10:33 PM
  6. My iphone was picked from my pocket yesterday on the subway here in New York.

    I called the phone and some one answered. They hung up when i said they had my phone…

    One would think that this it would be very easy to:
    1. locate the phone via signal or sim,
    2. permanently disable it,
    3. confiscate it and return it to the owner, if some one tries to activate it again.

    If any one has any thoughts on recourse please do let me know.
    as this was a $499.00 phone is this theft not a felony?


    Posted by robert on March 13, 2008 11:46 AM

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