If your iPhone or iPad is lost or stolen and you want to make sure no one else can use your voice, data, or messaging plans, but you don't want to block the SIM card entirely, it sounds like AT&T might have a new service that can help. The Verge has a source that says exactly such a blocking service is coming this Tuesday, July 10.
According to our source, AT&T "will have no directory of blocked phones," but it is not yet clear what this means in practice. AT&T's guidance states that "only the person who originated a block may request block removal," a rule which suggests that the company will keep a central list of blocked phones matched to customers.
U.S. carriers including AT&T had previously announced a directory of lost and stolen phones but how, if at all, this new blocking service would factor in is unknown.
While Apple already offers Find my iPhone to help track down or remotely wipe iPhones, iPads, and Macs that are lost and stolen, it doesn't stop use of the actual SIM card the way this blocking service would.
One of the biggest problems associated with lost or stolen devices, however, is knowing when to hit the various panic buttons. Once you wipe or block your phone or tablet, you likely won't be able to track it down anymore.
A really strong passcode could offer some data or account protection prior to wiping or blocking, while you try to locate your device, but you might want to opt to be safer, sooner.
When my iPad 2 was stolen from my car last year, I remotely wiped it with Find my iPhone and reported the SIM card to my carrier immediately. I'm not sure I would have used blocking even if it was an option -- a new SIM card was a hassle, but once it was done, there were no more worries.
Would you use this new blocking service if/when your carrier offered it?
Source: The Verge