Can you track a cell phone by IMEI number?

I can see many people lose their cell phone because many ask me to track their lost phone by IMEI number. All they have is the phone model, IMEI number and phone number.

Phone model is simply useless as there are hundreds of thousands of mobile devices of the same model out there. Phone number does not help at all. Once someone gets your phone, the first thing is to remove the battery and change the SIM card, or simply does not answer calls and use the balance out. So it’s of no use calling your number either. So what about the IMEI number?

What is IMEI? IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. It’s a universally unique number to identify each cell phone, no duplicate. It’s stored in EEPROM and consists of 15 numbers with the first 6 digits being TAC (type approval code), following 3 digits being FAC (final assembly code), following 6 digits being SNR (serial number) and the last digit being SP (for verification purpose always 0).

The IMEI number is printed on the package and can be found under the battery. You can also type *#06# to find out the number stored on your phone. Generally speaking, IMEI number is ideal for finding missing phones as it’s unique. And there are IMEI tracking website out there. You can search your IMEI number in their database. If it returns a results matches your input, then congratulations, they know may know where your handset is (getting it back is another story). Otherwise you can submit your IMEI number and leave an Email address. They will notify you once they find your phone.

I have not heard of anyone finding their device by IMEI number however. It’s not difficult to understand that it’s really no easy task to collect every cell phone’s IMEI number, it’s impossible.

So it’s safe to say that IMEI number won’t help recover your lost phone. In fact another IMSI number does a better job when it comes to easy accessible. IMSI is short of International Mobile Subscriber Identification Number. It’s used to identify mobile devices on GSM networks. That is every mobile device needs an IMSI number to utilize mobile services provided by carriers. In this way mobile operators can obtain this number easily. Unfortunately this 15-digit number is stored in SIM cards.

Although you can not find your stolen handset by IMEI number, you can use it to block the missing phone from being used. You can report your IMEI number to the carrier and they will deny service of the missing model. This seems perfect. But it just works in a few countries and not all carriers support it even in the country where it’s available. The good news is that US users now are putting pressure on mobile operators such as AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile etc to take actions to blacklist Smartphone goes missing. Once the system works, the thieves will find that the mobile device they steal is just a piece of hardware.

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