AT&T announced Thursday that its "stolen phone database" project, designed to deter phone theft, is now complete.
Back in April, the FCC and AT&T, with cooperation from other wireless carriers, announced plans to create the stolen phone database.
The database deters theft by making stolen phones useless: once a device is reported missing or stolen, wireless carriers simply block all its voice and data communications and prevent it from being reactivated.
The FCC and AT&T worked with T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint to complete the database, which likely uses each device's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) to keep track of stolen handsets.
How to report a stolen phone
The first thing to do if your phone is stolen is obviously to alert local authorities. Duh.
But after that, you'll want to head to att.com/stolenphone or an AT&T store, or call AT&T customer service, to have the device disabled.
Even if your device isn't on AT&T, the carrier will add it to the database and share that data with other service providers.
One thing to remember: if your phone's data can be wiped remotely, do so before your carrier disables it.
If the phone turns up later, it can always be re-enabled.
Safety is the top priority
The stolen phone database first became operational in July, but on Thursday AT&T announced that the initiative's second phase had been completed, making it fully operational.
The database was conceived in cooperation with police and local authorities from New York and Washington, D.C., not to mention Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).
In addition to the database, a website designed to educate customers about data and phone protection in order to prevent theft was launched in May as part of the initiative.
"Our customers' safety is a top priority for AT&T and we look forward to continuing our work in this area," said AT&T's Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn.