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Protecting Your Cellphone and Smart Devices

by: Keyla Hernández-Ulloa, Associate Division Chief, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

November 28, 2012 - 04:37 PM

Now that the holiday season is upon us, it is important to remember to protect our cell phones and smart devices from theft or loss.  Theft of such devices continues to increase and is becoming a serious issue not only in the United States but globally.  

Among the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to address the issue of stolen or lost devices, was a November press conference co-hosted by Chairman Julius Genachowski and Under-Secretary of Communications for Mexico Hector Olavarría Tapia. Also in attendance was Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier, who has been a leading advocate on the issue of cell phone theft.

During this event (which can be viewed at http://www.fcc.gov/events/announcement-bilateral-initiative-combat-stolen-mobile-devices) they announced an initiative to combat the theft and cross-border trafficking of mobile devices between the United States and Mexico. The agreement is in addition to the recent participation of mobile service providers - both in the United States and Mexico - in an international stolen device database that will use shared information to identify and deactivate a stolen device after it has been reported stolen. This will prevent devices stolen in one country to be re-activated in another country. 

Among the actions that will be taken by the FCC and Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT) are tracking, analyzing and reporting progress in preventing mobile device theft.  Both agencies will also share best practices with respect to theft prevention and consumer education such as the use passwords to lock their phones and mobile apps that teach users how to lock, locate and wipe their phones remotely. These actions aim to protect the sensitive information stored on mobile devices.   Both agencies will release biannual reports that provide data on topics such as compliance with carrier commitments. Consumers will be able to access reports via the Internet.

More recent coverage of this topic includes a CNN En Español (http://bit.ly/SUe87T) segment featuring, FCC International Bureau Chief, Mindel De La Torre and CTIA-The Wireless Association’s  public service announcement  posted on its website “Before You Lose It” (http://beforeyouloseit.org).

The FCC’s guide on stolen or lost devices provides consumers with tips on how to protect themselves from having their cell phone stolen and what to do if it is.  The guide is available in English at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/stolen-and-lost-wireless-devices and in Spanish at http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/spanish/lostwirelessdevices.html.

Several tips include:

  • Reviewing your warranty or service agreement to learn what happens to your mobile device if it is lost or stolen.
  • Locking up your device in the glove compartment or trunk so that it is not visible to the public.
  • Immediately contacting your carrier if the device is lost or stolen.
  • Immediately contacting the police if your device is stolen.

May you, your loved ones and your devices have a safe and Happy Holiday

Updated: November 28, 2012 - 04:38 PM
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