Are you buying a stolen mobile? TCF introduces online checker

TCF CEO David Stone

TCF's top 5 tips for mobile users

  • Only purchase new or second hand phones from trustworthy sources – such as registered mobile dealers.  If you are buying second hand, always check the status of the handset on the TCF website first – http://www.tcf.org.nz/imeicheck
     
  • You can obtain your 15 digit IMEI number by pressing *#06# on your mobile phone.  Alternatively, the IMEI number should also be on a white label found underneath the battery of the device.
     
  • If you lose your phone or you think it has been stolen, report this as soon as possible to your mobile provider. 
     
  • Be careful where you leave your phone – avoid café tables, bars, or having it hanging out of your pocket.  You’d be surprised at how skilled thieves are at snatching these items
     
  • Put a pin, password or other form of security on your phone and set it to automatically lock, so that only you can access calling, texting and other applications.  Install an application like Find My Phone, which will allow you to track the phone over Wi-Fi if you lose it.

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has launched an online service that allows mobile phone users to check whether a handset has been blocked from use on New Zealand networks before they buy, saving innocent purchaser’s time and money. 

In December 2013, the TCF, along with its members Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees, worked to develop a national mobile handset blacklisting system, which gives each network carrier the ability to block the IMEI number (unique identification code) of a mobile device that has been reported as stolen across all three networks. 

Today’s launch of the online IMEI checking service completes the last part of this project. The service allows users to quickly and easily check whether a mobile phone has been blocked from use. 

Chief Executive of the TCF David Stone said that introduction of the online checking tool for consumers, is an important step in reducing mobile phone theft.

“Mobile Handset Blacklisting was introduced to help reduce mobile phone theft by blocking lost and stolen devices nationwide so that phones become virtually worthless and therefore less enticing targets for thieves.” said Mr Stone.  “Now that users can check the status of a device before they purchase it, we hope to further combat the problem of handset theft.”

The service is free and it only takes a few seconds to learn whether that dream phone is actually a useless brick.

However the tool is not infallible. The IMEI check only provides details of those phones reported and blocked at the time of the inquiry, so it cannot identify a device that has not has not yet been reported as lost or stolen. 

Users have up to 30 days to report a lost or stolen handset.  For this reason, Mr Stone warned that people should always be careful about purchasing mobile phones or other mobile devices from sources other than registered dealers.  “If you’re in the market for a second hand phone ask the seller for the IMEI number, input this into the webpage and if the results show the phone has been reported lost or stolen, then stay clear.  You should always use common sense though - if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.” 

The IMEI checking service can be used by New Zealand based users up to three times per day.  The IMEI check can be located at http://www.tcf.org.nz/imeicheck.

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