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Verizon to start locking phones later this year

Verizon HQ in New York
Verizon HQ in New York
The only major US carrier that offered completely unlocked devices decided to change its policy due to theft, so Verizon Wireless customers who get a new phone now have to go through a probationary period that lasts from the purchase date to the activation of the service.

Verizon Wireless has been going through a lot of theft-related issues lately, so they decided to start locking their phones. According to the company, armed robberies were 200 percent up in 2017 over 2016. A study conducted by a third party back in 2016 concluded that 5 percent of the devices offered for sale or trade-in at retail were reported stolen or lost, while 4 percent of the warranty claims were made for stolen/lost handsets as well.

A recent statement by Verizon reads the following: "Just this weekend, four armed, masked men, stormed into one of our locations and held employees at gunpoint as they loaded phones from our inventory into a truck. We need to protect our employees from criminals with guns and protect customers from criminals who try to use their identities to fraudulently purchase phones."

The steps that Verizon Wireless is taking to combat theft and reduce fraud are not annoying right now since the phones will be unlocked as soon as the customer signs up and activates the service. However, later this spring, they will begin to keep the phone locked for a yet to be disclosed period of time after its purchase. 

The other major carriers in the US have been doing this already. Sprint, for example, unlocks devices automatically 50 days after they are completely paid off. T-Mobile does it after 40 days, but can also temporarily unlock them earlier for those who travel abroad (a request must be placed for this, of course). At last, AT&T requires the phone to be completely paid off and to be an active customer for at least 60 days before allowing you to place an unlock request. After the request, it takes 14 days for the unlock to be performed.


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Codrut Nistor, 2018-02-13 (Update: 2018-02-13)