IMEI tampering

The Indian government has made tampering of IMEI number a punishable offense that can attract a jail term of up to 3 years. As per the government, IMEI tampering puts constraints on incidences of mobile theft.  Making it a jailable offence will help to restrict the issues of fake IMEI numbers and will also ease tracking of lost phones.

It shall be unlawful, if a person, except the manufacturer – intentionally removes, obliterates, changes, or alters unique Mobile Device Equipment Identification Number,” the Department of Telecom (DoT) said in a notification dated August 25.

The new rules called “the prevention of tampering of the Mobile Device Equipment Identification Number Rules, 2017” restrict a person from knowingly using a mobile device whose IMEI number has been changed or which has software that can change or tamper this unique number.

The rules have been framed in a combination of Section 7 and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act. The section 7 allows DoT to make rules for the conduct of telecom services and Section 25 deals with rules for damaging of the telegraph line, machines or any related equipment. The rules come with a provision of punishments including up to 3 years of jail or fine or both.

The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a unique 15-digit serial number which is basically the ID of a mobile handset. It is allocated by a global industry body GSMA and other bodies authorized by it. IMEI number is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone, but it can also be displayed on-screen on most phones by dialing *#06#. When a mobile phone is lost, the IMEI number of the handset is used for tracking the device.

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Whenever a user makes a call, the call record of that user shows his phone number and IMEI number of the handset from which the call has been made. The mobile number in a handset can be changed by changing the SIM card but IMEI number can only be changed by a technical person using special equipment. Some people have started using this technique for changing the IMEI number.

Now, besides this rule, the Department of Telecom is also setting up a new system that will block all services on the stolen or lost mobile phones on any network. From now on, no one can use a lost or stolen mobile device even if the SIM card is removed or IMEI number of the handset is changed.