What is IMEI?

IMEI is acronym of International Mobile Equipment Identity, is a unique number encoded in every mobile phone. No two devices have the same IMEI, meaning the number assigned to your unit is only applicable to your phone alone. It is also called as the fingerprint of an electronic device as the IMEI number is sufficient for identifying a particular phone, including all of its details such as the brand and model. The phone manufacturers assign IMEI numbers to individual phones so they can identify them easily. Given that each IMEI number is unique, it is now being used for tracking lost mobile phones.

The first step in tracking mobile phones via IMEI is to actually know what the IMEI number of your phone is. There are 2 ways to get it done. The first step is to dial *#06* in your dial pad. The set of digits that would come out is the IMEI number of your phone. The second step is to check your phone’s body frame. The IMEI is usually printed at the battery compartment. If you cannot find it there, you can check with your manufacturer for help in locating your IMEI. Regardless of what method you use, make sure you save your IMEI (i.e.: write it in a notepad, save it in your backup phone) for future reference.

Why tracking IMEI is not simple

While it is simple enough to memorize your IMEI, the process of tracking a phone using it is not as simple as it sounds. The first step in the process is to report the loss of your phone to the proper authorities. From there, the authorities will write a letter to the network provider to request for IMEI tracking. Once the form is accomplished, the network will then block the phone, rendering it useless until it is unlocked. A blocked phone cannot be used even if the SIM card is changed. The process may seem straightforward, but it is not as easy as it sounds.   The process is a bit lengthy, but it’s very effective once done.

Triangulation explained

The rule of thumb is that as long as your phone is connected to a network, it should be possible for you to track your mobile phone via your IMEI. The technique used for tracking mobile phones via its network connection is called triangulation. This works by sending a signal to a satellite, then the satellite will send a signal to the missing handset. Once the handset receives the signal, the location of the phone can be identified using global positioning and receiving satellite (GPRS) technology.

This technique is highly effective because there are basically only 2 ways to escape triangulation: never use a SIM card or change the IMEI number. One can always change SIM cards but the phone can still be tracked as long as the IMEI number stays intact. Changing the IMEI number is also possible, but that is a significantly trickier proposition. Changing the IMEI number is virtually impossible as only the manufacturer has access to programs that can change the IMEI number. As such, tracking a phone using the triangulation technique is virtually a fool-proof technique for tracking phones and spotting thieves.