Carriers agree to disable stolen phones for good

Cell phone carriers and the governemnt make it difficult to use stolen cell phone.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cellphone companies and the government are trying to make it as difficult to use a stolen cellphone as it is to sell a stolen car.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says that major cellphone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission have agreed to set up a database of identification numbers that are unique to each phone.

Using the list, a cellular carrier can permanently disable the phone once it has been reported stolen. Until now, U.S. carriers have only been disabling so-called "SIM" cards, which can be swapped in and out. That's enabled a black market to exist for stolen phones.

Schumer says the goal of the agreement is to make a stolen cellphone "as worthless as an empty wallet."