Verizon won approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lock new devices to its network for 60 days after they are sold, a move the operator said will help prevent fraud and theft.
AT&T, T-Mobile US and Sprint all already require phones stay attached to their networks for a certain period of time before users can ask to have them unlocked. Verizon was the only major operator in the country to offer devices unlocked from the time of sale.
In a statement, Verizon Wireless chief Ronan Dunne called the decision “a win for consumers…and a strong message to identity thieves, fraudsters and criminals who are looking to steal phones and customer information”.
He added devices will automatically be unlocked after the 60 day hold expires.
When Verizon made its application in February, Dunne said the temporary lock would have “virtually no impact” on legitimate customers given so few switch carriers within the first two months, but noted it will “enhance the digital security of our devices” by reducing incentives for thieves.
The operator highlighted theft as a growing problem: In 2018, it said nearly 7,000 customers per month were impacted by theft, up from 4,800 in 2017.
Additionally, costs related to handset fraud increased from $115 million in 2017 to $190 million in 2018, and jumped 93 per cent year-on-year to $34 million in January 2019, Verizon said.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back