A retired Principal from Mumbai lost Rs 1.6 lakh to cyber fraud three days after his phone was stolen. The thief used the UPI pin of the stolen phone for shopping goods worth lakhs of rupees.
This is only one of the thousand cases across India, where people are duped via cell phone theft. One of the reasons that the authorities cite is the difficulty in tracking stolen or lost phones, leading to a delay in nabbing the accused.
To curtail the rampant theft of mobile phones, the Department of Telecom (DoT) is all set to roll out a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR).
This register will maintain the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), a database of 15-digit unique numbers.
The government has allotted Rs 15 crore to the DoT for the CEIR project.
As per the The Indian Express report, the consumers whose phone is stolen or lost, can alert the DoT on a helpline number after filing a report with the Police. The department will then blacklist the IMEI number, and the phone will be of no use as it will be blocked from receiving any signal or connectivity.
This new tracking policy may not necessarily guarantee that you will get your missing phone back, but it will ensure that it is made nonfunctional to prevent the leakage of any personal information. The helpline number is likely to be effective a few weeks from now.
“The theft and cloning of mobile phones have become a serious problem. The theft of mobile phones is not just a financial loss but also a threat to [the] personal life of the citizens as well as national security. Counterfeit mobile phones in the market are another issue for DoT. A substantial number of counterfeit mobile phones are active in our mobile networks with fake IMEI numbers,” reads the DoT office memorandum accessed by The Indian Express.
The plan to come up with a registry of mobile identification numbers was first proposed in 2012 under the National Telecom Policy. A pilot project was also conducted by state-owned BSNL’s IT Project Service unit in Pune.
What Is IMEI and How To Access It
An IMEI is a number assigned to each cellular device. It identifies the device within the mobile network. With this, a mobile phone can be blocked from being used by another person or phone company if it has been lost or stolen.
It is advised that you never share the IMEI publicly as it can be misused. Android and iPhone users can check their number by dialling *#06#. The number can also be found behind the battery. You can make a note of the number for your reference.
As on March 2018 data of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, India had 1.16 billion wireless subscribers. In Bengaluru alone, 200 mobile phones go missing per day. Since 2016, a whooping 2.43 lakh wireless phones have been reported missing or stolen as per The Times of India.
With the number of missing phones on the rise, the introduction of the IMEI database will act as a relief to citizens and the government.
India is not the first country to keep the unique identity register. Other countries who have already implemented this provision include Turkey, Australia, the UK and Egypt.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)