The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has launched a new online service, designed to allow mobile phone users to check whether a handset has been blocked from use on New Zealand networks before they buy.
In short, the idea behind the website is to save innocent Kiwi 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.
This week's launch of the online IMEI checking service completes the last part of this project, allowing users to quickly and easily check whether a mobile phone has been blocked from use.
Chief Executive of the TCF David Stone says 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," Stone says.
“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, Stone warns 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," he says.
"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.