QCOSTARICA | Costa Rica’s mobile operators Claro, ICE (Kolbi) and Telefonica (Movistar), together with the country’s telecoms regulator Sutel and the Deputy Ministry of Telecommunications, have pledged to combat cellular phone theft with series of new initiatives as part of the ‘Nos Importa Costa Rica’ (We Care) campaign.

The plan includes the implementation of the GSMA’s IMEI Device Check system, allowing consumers to check the  Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones ( Sutel ) website in real time when buying a cellular phone, to see whether it appears on the global list of stolen mobile devices.

Every cellular phone has a unique identification code, the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity or IMEI, used by a GSM network to identify valid devices and therefore can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing that network. The IMEI is only used for identifying the device and has no permanent or semi-permanent relation to the subscriber.

Many countries have acknowledged the use of the IMEI in reducing the effect of mobile phone theft. IMEI blocking is not the only approach available for combating phone theft. When a cellular phone is stolen or lost, the owner can contact their local operator with a request that it should be blocked from the operator’s network, which blacklists the device. The IMEI number is not supposed to be easy to change. However this is not always the case: a phone’s IMEI may be easy to change with special tools.

In addition, Claro, ICE and Telefonica signed an agreement with the Mobile Manufacturers Forum to improve access from their websites to the data system of the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI). The system enables users to identify mobile handsets in their area that offer services designed to assist users with disabilities.

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