Apple Disables Tool That Identified If Phones Were Stolen

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

Several years ago, Apple introduced Activation Lock, a program that allows consumers to render their devices useless once stolen, along with Activation Lock status checker, which allowed customers to determine if their phone had been secured with another user, a sign it may have been stolen. Now, it appears the latter option is no more.

Mac Rumors reports that Apple removed the status checker from iCloud in the last week, effectively preventing customers from being able to check if a phone is Activation Locked.

Activation Lock is automatically enabled when users turn on Find My Phone and prevents anyone else from using the device unless they can enter the owner’s Apple ID and password.

With status checker, iPhone users could enter the serial number or IMEI of iOS devices – including iPads, watches, and iPhones — to find out if Activation Lock was active.

For example, if someone purchasing a phone enters the serial number, finds that Activation Lock is enabled, and the seller won’t unlocked the device, it could be a sign the phone is stolen or was once lost.

When visiting, users are now greeted with a 404 “Not Found” screen.

Additionally, Mac Rumors reports that a corresponding section in Apple’s “Find My iPhone” detailing how to check Activation Lock has been removed.

Activation Lock is just one anti-theft option — often known as so-called “kill switches” —  intended to render phones uses for criminals by allowing consumers to disable their stolen devices. Such kill switches were created to reduce smartphone thefts and save consumers billions of dollars a year in the cost of replacement phones and phone insurance plans.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.