Monday the FCC, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile announced a plan to combat smartphone theft. They’re creating a national database to track stolen phones, and they’ll deny service to any phone reported stolen. A lawsuit filed in California on Tuesday says AT&T should’ve been doing this all along.
An article from Forbes reports that customers Hilary White, Jeff Pello and Natalie Warren have all had their iPhones stolen, and they think AT&T didn’t do enough to get them back.
“AT&T has “[made] millions of dollars in improper profits, by forcing legitimate customers, such as these Plaintiffs, to buy new cell phones, and buy new cell phone plans, while the criminals who stole the phone are able to simply walk into AT&T stories and ‘re-activate’ the devices, using different, cheap, readily-available ‘SIM’ cards,” states their complaint (PDF via Courthouse News Service) which alleges violations of California consumer and business laws, including conspiracy, fraud, breach of contract, accessory to theft, and unfair trade.”
The plaintiffs say that AT&T has willfully aided and abetted the thieves because the company knows the former owners will just buy new devices.
Marc Hinch, runs Stolen911, a database for stolen goods. He says, “There’s no corporate incentive to track them or to ensure they’re returned to their owners, though. Because that person is just going to buy a new device, resulting in more sales.”
Of course, AT&T doesn’t think much of the lawsuit. “The suit itself is without merit, but criminals stealing smartphones is a serious issue, which is why earlier this week we joined with law enforcement, the FCC and other wireless carriers to announce additional steps to provide a comprehensive industry and government response to the problem of wireless device theft,” said a spokesperson for the company as they quickly side-stepped to dodge the complaint.