Verizon is Changing its Unlocked Phone Policy This Spring

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Verizon Wireless is going to make a big change to the way it hands unlocked smartphones beginning in a few months.

According to a report from CNET, beginning this spring, Verizon is going to start selling its smartphones in a locked state. This is a big change from how things work now, and how Verizon has sold phones since they started selling 4G LTE handsets. Verizon has sold its devices unlocked, which means that customers don’t have to take any extra steps to get the handsets unlocked after they sign up for service. No waiting period, and no requirement to pay off the handset.

Unfortunately for Verizon, this has made their smartphones a target for thieves and scammers. Without the waiting period in place, people can simply get their hands on a Verizon device and sell it off, and it’s not locked to Verizon’s network. Scammers, meanwhile, can sign up for new service with Verizon, and, in most cases, pay nothing down up front with a fake I.D., only to sell off the unlocked devices.

The rollout is happening in stages, with the initial step being to lock phones until the point of purchase, where they will be unlocked. However, as noted above, beginning this spring the devices will be locked for a longer period of time.

“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud,” Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement. “These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”

So, to combat this, Verizon is going to start selling its phone in a locked state beginning in the spring. No specific date was mentioned, and at the time of publication Verizon has not said what kind of waiting period will be in place. The other wireless carriers offer waiting periods between 40 and 60 days (AT&T is 60 days, plus an additional 14 days after the unlock request is sent in).

In each case, the carriers require the smartphone to be paid off completely.

The change goes into effect soon. What do you think?

[via CNET]