On Tue, 11 Jan 2011 00:27:27 -0800, DevilsPGD wrote:
> As I understand it, doing so would actually be illegal under US law.
As I said, it's not illegal in the US to spoof an IMEI number!
It could be illegal to change the IMEI in parts of Europe that
participate in blacklists - but not in the USA (which doesn't employ
blacklists anyway so there would be no reason to implement such a law in
I see from the previous poster there is a way: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20090069001.pdf
They store a program on your SIM card! http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2009/0069001.html
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR IMEI DETECTION AND ALERTING
United States Patent Application 20090069001
A system and method for detecting and storing information regarding a
mobile communications device within a mobile communications network.
Initially, a first data record is received at a subscriber/device
database comprising subscriber/device data. Next, a second data record is
received at the subscriber/device database comprising additional
subscriber/device data. A first data record of a subscriber may then be
compared to a second data record of the same subscriber, and if the first
data record is different from the second data record a service provider
may be notified.
1. Cardina, Donald M. (Lawrenceville, GA, US)
2. Kefalas, Anastasios L. (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Application Number: 12/267401
Publication Date: 03/12/2009
Filing Date: 11/07/2008
Primary Class: 455/418
Other Classes: 455/558, 707/999.104, 707/999.107
International Classes: H04M3/00; G06F17/30; H04M1/00; H04W8/22;
H04W12/00; H04M3/00; G06F17/30; H04M1/00; H04W8/22; H04W12/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP/AT&T;AT&T Legal Department (Attn: Patent
Docketing, One AT&T Way, Room 2A-207, Bedminster, NJ, 07921, US)
Claims: What is claimed is:
1. A system for storing information relating to mobile communications
devices, comprising: a mobile communications network; a plurality of
communications devices communicable with the mobile communications
network; a database for storing subscriber/device data, wherein the
subscriber/device data comprises subscriber identity data along with
device identity data regarding the device in use by the subscriber; and a
first programmed routine operable within the mobile communications
network for updating the subscriber/device data within the database after
initial storage thereof.
2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a second programmed routine
operable within the mobile communications network for notifying one or
more entities or applications of a subscriber/device data change.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the subscriber identity data comprises
subscriber information received from a SIM card and the device identity
data comprises an IMEI number.
4. The system of claim 3, further comprising an application resident on
the SIM card for collecting and sending the subscriber/device data to the
5. They system of claim 4, wherein the application transmits the
subscriber/device data via at least one of an SMS, an MMS, an e-mail, and
a USSD message.
6. The system of claim 1, further comprising a list to which subscriber/
device data may be compared to determine if a listed device is in use by
7. The system of claim 6, wherein the listed device comprises a device
that is being used improperly.
8. The method of claim 6, wherein the listed device comprises a device
that has been reported lost or stolen.
9. The method of claim 6, wherein the listed device comprises a device
that has been improperly switched from pre-paid to post-paid service.
10. A method for detecting and storing information regarding a mobile
communications device within a mobile communications network, comprising:
receiving at a subscriber/device database a first data record comprising
subscriber/device data relating to a particular subscriber; receiving at
the subscriber/device database a second data record comprising subscriber/
device data relating to the particular subscriber; comparing the first
data record to the second data record; and notifying a service provider
if the first data record is different from the second data record,
wherein the subscriber/device data comprises subscriber identity data
along with device identity data regarding the mobile device in use by the
11. The method of claim 10, wherein the subscriber identity data
comprises subscriber information received from a SIM card and the device
identity data comprises an IMEI number.
12. The method of claim 10, further comprising comparing device identity
data from the second record to a list of listed devices.
13. The method of claim 12, further comprising notifying the service
provider that a listed device is in use.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the listed device comprises a device
that has been reported lost or stolen.
15. The system of claim 13, wherein the listed device comprises a device
that is being used improperly.
16. The method of claim 13, wherein the listed device comprises a device
that has been improperly switched from pre-paid to post-paid service.
17. The method of claim 10, wherein the subscriber/device data is
collected and sent to the database by an application resident on the SIM
18. The method of claim 17, wherein the subscriber device/data is
collected each time the mobile device powers up.
19. The method of claim 17, wherein the subscriber/device data is
collected and sent each time the mobile device is connected to the mobile
20. The method of claim 10, wherein the subscriber/device data is sent to
the database in response to monitoring of the network by at least one of
A-bis, MSC, HLR, VLR, and STP monitoring.
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional application Ser.
No. ______, entitled “IMEI Detection and Alerting System”, filed Jul. 7,
2004, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to collection, storage, and use
of data transmitted from mobile telecommunications devices. More
particularly, the present invention relates to collection and mining of
data related to device identity data, the Internal Mobile station
Equipment Identity (IMEI), and of subscriber identity data related to the
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) of mobile telecommunications devices.
2. Background of the Invention
It is common practice in the telecommunications industry for a service
provider (SP) to record information regarding a mobile communication
device at the time of activation of service. For example, each
communications device's IMEI contains information regarding that device
that tells the SP what type of device is being used, which in turn lets
the SP know what functionality is available on that particular device.
With GSM, PCS, and other such phone systems, the device has a removable
SIM card that contains, among other things, information related to the
user and that allows the device to function with the particular SP's
network. Each time a user connects to a network, the information on the
SIM card is transmitted and permits the user to utilize the services of
the network. Most SPs, however, only know the relationship between the
SIM card and the IMEI at the time of activation or possibly at any other
time when a subscriber happens to bring the device in, for example, to be
Because the user's account information necessary to connect to a network
is contained wholly within the user's SIM card, a user may transfer the
SIM card from one device to another without the SP ever learning of the
switch. While this functionality allows freedom for users to change
devices without need for involving technicians or service representatives
of the SP, it also presents problems for both users and SPs.
Additionally, prior art mobile communications systems for time division
multiple access (TDMA) subscribers did not encounter such problems
because the mobile identification number (MIN)/electronic serial number
(ESN) combination for the subscriber must be in the home location
register (HLR) in order for the handset to be used. Subscribers would be
unable to make changes to their equipment without involving the service
As mentioned above, the IMEI information allows the SP to know what
functionality the particular device supports. If a user has switched
devices unbeknownst to the SP, however, the user or the SP or both may
encounter problems related to interaction between the service and the new
device. In addition, when a user makes a service call, if the SP service
representative believes that the user has a device different from the
device actually in use, then the user may not receive optimal service
during the service call.
There are also security issues that may result from SIM card portability.
Because the SIM card is essentially the “brains” of a mobile device, a
stolen or lost phone may be used by anyone with an active SIM card by
simply replacing the SIM card into the stolen or lost phone. Because the
SP often does not check IMEI versus SIM information, a thief or person
who finds a lost phone can use that phone with impunity.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It would be desirable to collect information from mobile
telecommunications devices to track SIM data in conjunction with IMEI
data to allow SPs to track a user's device in real-time or near real-time
so that the SP is aware of the device being used by a subscriber with
better accuracy than is currently provided. This information can be used
to enhance service to subscribers in many ways. For example, by matching
SIM data with IMEI data, an SP may determine that a device that has been
reported lost or stolen is being used and may track and possibly locate
the missing device or merely disable service to any user attempting to
use that particular device.
In another example, by knowing what functionality is available to a
particular user, the SP may tailor what services are offered to that
particular subscriber so as to maximize its marketing efforts. Similarly,
when one user is attempting to utilize enhanced features with another
user, knowledge of both users' device information will better allow the
SP to inform each party of the other user's capabilities. Such user to
user features are described in more depth in U.S. application Ser. No.
______, entitled “System and Method for Providing Mobile Device
Capability to a Wireless Network Subscriber” by Emily Soelberg, filed
Aug. 2, 2004. In this manner, for example, a first user would know before
attempting to send, for example, a video message, that the intended
target user does not have such capability to receive a video message.
These and other benefits will be described in more detail in the detailed
According to a first exemplary embodiment, a method for detecting and
storing information regarding a mobile communications device within a
mobile communications network is disclosed. Initially, a first data
record is received at a subscriber/device database comprising subscriber/
device data. Next, a second data record is received at the subscriber/
device database comprising additional subscriber/device data. A first
data record of a subscriber may then be compared to a second data record
of the same subscriber, and if the first data record is different from
the second data record a service provider may be notified.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an exemplary system for storing subscriber/device data within a
mobile communications network to a database; and
FIG. 2 is a flow chart showing an exemplary method for receiving and
handling subscriber/device data in accordance with the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Before one or more embodiments of the invention are described in detail,
one skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention is not limited
in its application to the details of construction, the arrangements of
components, and the arrangement of steps set forth in the following
detailed description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is
capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out
in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and
terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not
be regarded as limiting.
FIG. 1 depicts a system 100 for enabling storage of IMEI information
transmitted or otherwise received within a cellular network 102 for
storage in an IMEI database 104 . The IMEI information is linked to and
may be received from a mobile station (MS) 106 or it may be input
directly by a service provider. When MS 106 registers with network 102 ,
system 100 can collect mobile station information including the IMEI,
which is a feature common to all GSM mobile stations currently in use.
For example, mobile switching center (MSC) 108 may request an IMEI from
MS 106 , or the IMEI may be automatically forwarded from MS 106 during a
registration process, and temporarily stored in VLR/HLR 110 . Either an
HLR (Home Location Register) or a VLR (Visitors' Location Register) would
be capable of capturing the above described information. Generally, a VLR
is a local database maintained by the cellular provider in whose
territory a subscriber is roaming. The cellular provider providing the
roaming service queries the HLR of the subscriber and then maintains that
information in its VLR at least for the duration that the subscriber is
roaming in the visiting service area.
As is known to those skilled in the art, each IMEI is a unique 15 digit
number assigned to an individual MS that can be used to determine
information associated with the MS, including the manufacturer and MS
model type. The IMEI received by network 102 is preferably stored in IMEI
database 104 . Preferably, IMEI database 104 contains IMEI information
associated with mobile stations of subscribers to network 102 . For
example, MSC 108 can forward to IMEI database 104 information such as an
IMEI number of MS 106 after it is requested by network 102 and initially
stored in VLR/HLR 110 .
Preferably, IMEI database 104 also contains hardware information
concerning commonly used mobile station models. Such information may
include an MS model, mail capability, and enhanced features associated
with each of a plurality of MS models, among other information. This
information may be periodically collected by system 100 and entered into
IMEI database 104 . Alternatively, this information may be located in a
separate hardware database (not shown). Referring again to FIG. 1, by
requesting the IMEI number of registering mobile station 106 , system 100
can create a contact mobile station table that lists IMEI number, MS 106
phone number or other information that may be contained on the SIM card
of MS 106 , and MS 106 hardware model. Additionally, using the IMEI
number, system 100 may determine the functional capabilities of MS 106 by
referring to its internal table of hardware/functional specifications for
each of the various types of known mobile communication devices.
The IMEI information stored in IMEI database 104 , also preferably
includes, as mentioned above, information related to the user of MS 106
via the SIM card in the phone. In this manner the information in IMEI
database 104 allows a service provider to know at any given time what
kind of communication device a particular user is currently using. Such
information may allow the service provider to tailor its service to that
customer in a manner most efficient and effective to both the service
provider and the mobile subscriber.
FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary process 200 for initially recording an IMEI/
SIM data pair and for updating the IMEI/SIM record as that information
changes. Initially, at step 202 , the IMEI/SIM data is entered into IMEI
database 104 when the mobile station is registered on the network 102 for
the first time. This information may be input directly into the database
by a customer service representative, or it may be possible that
information is transmitted to the database directly from the mobile
station itself. Next, at step 204 , the IMEI/SIM data is again received
at IMEI database 104 .
System 100 then, at step 206 , checks the most recent IMEI/SIM data
versus the data currently stored in IMEI database 104 . At step 208 ,
system 100 checks to see if the data is the same as what was previously
contained in IMEI database 104 . If the IMEI/SIM data is the same as what
is already contained in IMEI database 104 , the new record may simply be
discarded at step 210 . If, however, IMEI/SIM information is found to be
different from that contained in IMEI database 104 , then system 100 may
update IMEI database 104 with the latest IMEI/SIM data at step 212 .
Although process 200 is depicted as discarding data that does not reflect
a change in the IMEI/SIM data, it may also be desirable to store all
instances of IMEI/SIM data transmission to maintain a full historical
view of activity by the users.
Finally, upon detection of a change, system 100 may then notify the
service provider (or any other application or entity that could utilize
such information) that the mobile subscriber is using a new mobile
station at step 214 , and thus allow the service provider or other entity/
application to act accordingly, such as by configuring the new mobile
station to support its new features.
One purpose of IMEI collection and alerting is to provide notification to
different applications connected to the IMEI database server that a
subscriber has changed its SIM card from one MS to another. There are
several different methods of detecting the IMEI change. Three of these
exemplary methods are Call Detail Record (CDR) collection, SIM card
applications, and enhanced switch features and A-bis links monitoring.
Each of these may have advantages over the other that may be relative to
the applications connecting to the IMEI server.
Within a CDR for voice and data calls is often contained IMEI, MSISDN,
IMSI, and other non-pertinent information for IMEI collection. System 100
can read the collected CDRs and may store the IMEI or IMEI/SIM
combination to the database. Alternatively, the combination may be
compared to the existing information in the database to see if an update
is necessary in the manner described in relation to FIG. 2.
Another exemplary method involves monitoring and enhanced switch methods.
In this example, IMEI data is monitored using one of numerous monitoring
capabilities of the network, such as, for example, using A-bis, MSC, HLR,
VLR and signal transfer point (STP) to monitor IMEI data that is
transmitted from the MS.
A third exemplary method for updating the IMEI database is to place an
application on the SIM card itself. This resident application can read
the IMEI each time the phone powers up, for example, or based on any
other criteria programmed into the application. The SIM application may
be programmed so that if the IMEI/SIM information is the same as the
previous check by the SIM application, then nothing happens. If, however,
the SIM application determines that a change has occurred in the IMEI/SIM
information, it could then transmit such information to the IMEI
database, at which time the database can be checked versus its latest
IMEI/SIM information and, if necessary, alert whatever applications
should be alerted of the change.
Alternatively, a fourth exemplary method for updating the IMEI database
may be provided by the VLR/HLR 110 . In particular, the VLR/HLR 110 may
inform the IMEI database of all changes to the IMEI/SIM database
information that it has captured, and/or was aware of, as a result of
various normal operating events that occur in the network, such as in the
situation where a mobile station periodically registers with the network
and its IMEI/SIM is automatically registered with the VLR/HLR 110 , or
It should be noted that while it may be desirable to capture all
instances of changes to the IMEI/SIM database information, it may also be
desirable to implement a function that only creates an alert regarding a
change if the system recognizes that the IMEI/SIM information has changed
for a significant duration. For example, it is possible that a first user
may encounter a second user who has a device that the first user wishes
to try out. In this scenario, the first user may temporarily swap his/her
SIM card into the second user's device for only a short period of time
long enough to enable the first user to assess the second user's device.
It may not be desirable in such a situation for the system to alert that
this short duration SIM swap has occurred. Accordingly, the system may
only acknowledge the SIM swap if the SIM card remains in the new device
for an extended period of time. Additionally if the system receives a
series of IMEI/SIM data records over a short period of time where a
single record reflecting a SIM swap occurs between two records reflecting
that the user's SIM card is in the user's original device, the system may
recognize this as the above-described type of temporary SIM swap and
effectively ignore the short-duration SIM discrepancy.
As with the method described in FIG. 2, it may also be desirable to
transmit all data collected by the SIM application so as to provide a
more robust history related to the IMEI/SIM information in the IMEI
database. The form of update related to the SIM application could take
the form of, for example, a short message service (SMS) message
containing the updated IMEI/SIM information. The update may also be an e-
mail, unstructured supplementary services data (USSD) message, Univeral
Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), or any other suitable manner of
transmitting the IMEI/SIM information from the MS to the IMEI database.
Each of the above-described monitoring/data collection methods is
intended as exemplary only and one of skill in the art will comprehend
that other data collection methods may be applicable for collecting IMEI/
SIM data and transferring it to the IMEI database.
As mentioned above, by implementing these or other methods of updating
the IMEI database, downstream and external applications, for example,
would be able to receive information (from historical to near-real-time,
depending on the need of the particular applications) about devices used
by the customer. This information can be used to control and track
numerous parameters that may aid in improving the customer experience,
controlling services received by the customer, and gaining insight into
The IMEI database can hold this information and allow it to be accessed
in a manner appropriate to the application-individual queries for a real-
time content application, bulk database replication for a query-intensive
application with less sensitivity to timeliness, and large-scale queries
for datamining and historical research needs.
Many benefits may be achieved through better knowledge of the customers'
mobile devices in use. It should be noted that the database would be
intended merely as a repository for information regarding a user and the
device currently in use. It is possible, however, that the database could
actively transmit information regarding IMEI/SIM changes, if so desired
The various applications that could benefit from that information would
be responsible for querying and/or receiving the information from the
database in a manner that is meaningful to that particular application.
In a first example of the type of use for the information contained in
the IMEI database it may be desirable to track user behavior versus
particular mobile devices to check, for example, whether users of certain
devices tend to use their mobile communications device in a manner that
generates more revenue for the service provider than users of other
devices. Such knowledge can allow service providers, content providers,
and hardware providers, among others, to optimize user experience across
all handsets and to allow for maximization of revenue and profits. Such
user/device behavior could be tracked, for example, by using the database
in a historical mode. Information regarding calls (including timestamps)
may then be cross-referenced with billing data to determine any type of
usage activity or behavior. The findings from such analysis may then be
extrapolated or otherwise analyzed to reach actionable conclusions
regarding customer behavior viz-a-viz the particular mobile
Additionally, a user from a legacy GSM market may be using a device that
does not allow an optimal user experience. It may be valuable to identify
such subscribers on a closer to real-time basis to inform the subscriber
of the benefit(s) of switching to an updated handset. Similarly, the
system could be developed to notify a customer who is using a device that
does not support his/her choice of features or products. Such
notification could be done by SMS, MMS, e-mail or any number of a ways of
notification. The IMEI database could be used in this instance as an
adjunct to the roaming systems, to identify devices that are suspect
regarding roaming services. Customers who are roaming inappropriately can
be notified through an SMS or other notification when they return to
their home area to switch devices and, for example, improve their service
or lower their costs.
In another example, a service provider could offer to national retailers
the ability to control shrinkage by using the IMEI database to provide
whitelist/blacklist capabilities, for example, for “phone in a box”
services. In this instance, when devices are sold to the national
retailer, they may be inserted into the IMEI database with a “not sold”
status. Upon the device being sold, the IMEI database record may be
converted to a “sold” status, which then allows the device to be
activated by the customer. The IMEI database can feed a point of sale
activation (POSA) system with the devices in use in the network and feed
other aspects of the network with devices that should not be allowed to
access the network.
Similar to the above, devices may be blacklisted entirely if they are
reported lost or stolen. If a user loses his/her device or has it stolen,
he/she may report this to the service provider. Whereas previously anyone
who came into possession of such a lost or stolen phone could simply
insert a valid SIM card and use the phone with impunity, the IMEI
database would allow service providers to learn of such illegal use and
terminate service to a user whose SIM card has been inserted into a
In yet another example, the IMEI/SIM data may be provided to a customer
care representative to enhance service to the customer. IMEI information
may be retrieved from the IMEI database based on the most recent
transmission, or it may be possible for the customer care representative
to initiate a transfer of IMEI information to the database while in
communication with the customer to receive the most updated information
regarding that user's communications device. In this manner, the customer
care representative will have access to the details regarding the
customer's device and can provide the highest level of service without
need for asking the user questions regarding the type of device in use.
Another use for the IMEI database information is to aid in prevention of
sideways movement of devices from pre-paid to post-paid. Often times,
mobile communications devices and accessories are packaged together and
sold specifically for use as pre-paid devices. Because the airtime usage
rates for pre-paid versus post-paid are often higher, service providers
offer these specially packaged phones at discounts. Also, in order to
promote the selling of pre-paid devices, retailers are often provided a
commission for selling such packages. If a phone is originally sold as a
pre-paid phone, it may be so designated within the IMEI database. If at
some point a user who is signed up for a post-paid plan inserts his/her
SIM card into the pre-paid phone, the phone could be blacklisted if it is
appropriate to do so, or at the very least, the commission that was to be
or has already been paid to the retailer could be revoked or denied.
In another example, the IMEI database could be used to determine if
certain types of communications should be sent from one device to
another. For example, one user may have MMS messaging capability while
another user does not. The network, before attempting to transmit the
or other such enhanced communication, may query the database to see if
the target user has the ability to accept the MMS message. If not, the
initiating user may be informed that the MMS message cannot be sent
rather than sending the MMS message anyway (and tying up the network with
unnecessary processing) and never making the sender aware that the MMS
message could not be received. As mentioned above, this and other
functionality associated with the IMEI database described herein are
disclosed in more detail in the aforementioned U.S. application Ser. No.
______, entitled “System and Method for Providing Mobile Device
Capability to a Wireless Network Subscriber” by Emily Soelberg, filed
Aug. 2, 2004.
Other than receiving such notifications from the network, it would be
desirable for use and maintenance of the IMEI database to be essentially
transparent to the customer. Such verification and database updating and
querying would preferably not create any noticeable change in service
speed or appearance to the user.
The foregoing disclosure of the preferred embodiments of the present
invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and
description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the
invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many variations and
modifications of the embodiments described herein will be apparent to one
of ordinary skill in the art in light of the above disclosure. The scope
of the invention is to be defined only by the claims appended hereto, and
by their equivalents.
Further, in describing representative embodiments of the present
invention, the specification may have presented the method and/or process
of the present invention as a particular sequence of steps. However, to
the extent that the method or process does not rely on the particular
order of steps set forth herein, the method or process should not be
limited to the particular sequence of steps described. As one of ordinary
skill in the art would appreciate, other sequences of steps may be
possible. Therefore, the particular order of the steps set forth in the
specification should not be construed as limitations on the claims. In
addition, the claims directed to the method and/or process of the present
invention should not be limited to the performance of their steps in the
order written, and one skilled in the art can readily appreciate that the
sequences may be varied and still remain within the spirit and scope of
the present invention.