Most of the time, people always have suspicions or paranoia regarding IMEI numbers. They are random numbers imprinted on various parts of your phone. They are said to be used as a method to recognize the parts of the phone and phone itself, but some have weird beliefs that they are used as a way to breach our privacy and keep surveillance on us.
It doesn’t matter whether that’s the case or not, because there’s no way to find it, but we can tell you more about what this IMEI number is and how it works, and what can someone do with my IMEI number?
What Is an IMEI Number (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity Number)?
IMEI number (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity Number) is a number that recognizes devices that use the terrestrial cellular network. What’s the terrestrial cellular network? Well, it’s the network that you use when calling someone and is provided by your cellular carriers depending on your data plan.
Since such devices don’t use the network from satellites, but straight from antennas and towers in the area, they rely on this type of network. International Mobile Equipment Number recognizes the devices in every area.
This may seem like an obvious number, but many people don’t know that laptops and other devices that carry wireless networks or 3G/4G networks, also carry these numbers in some part, and phones that contain dual-sims, also have one number sequence on each sim card.
How Does an IMEI Number Work?
In short, it’s used to recognize and locate devices, this means that it enables you to work with the network, and also prevents theft. If someone steals your phone and you report it, the IMEI number can be tracked and stopped, you can have the IMEI number blocked from networks, which will stop networks from coming or going out of your phone, making it almost useless for the stealer.
If someone wants to steal and then somehow try to get the IMEI number out, it’s still impossible to do it without damaging the device. So, asking “what someone can do with my IMEI number?” may be redundant, because they are hard coded numbers encrypted in parts of the device that work in their way and are impossible to get out without damaging something.
Since some people might think the IMEI number gets blocked only in terrestrial cellular networks, that’s not the case entirely, one network can notify others to do the same and block the number everywhere, leaving the phone vulnerable and easy to track.
Government Tracks You Using Your IMEI Number
Well, yes, and it’s not in the way you might think, also there are reasons to do this. The government can keep track of the number itself and locate it and access information regarding the number with a warrant.
However, it can’t recognize who this belongs to, there are Billions of IMEI numbers and the government can give a name or ID, or even a picture to all of them.
But some IMEI numbers can have names or IDs attached to them. It depends on whether you signed in contract with the mobile carrier and your information was input into the device, in that case, the government can access the information but only with a warrant.
Your privacy is kept safe and the government doesn’t have the resources or interests in locating each for no reason, they can track those that have suspicions or illegal activities, but that is good, so unless you have nothing to hide, you don’t have to worry about government invading your privacy through the IMEI number.
Not All Devices Have IMEI Numbers
That’s correct, not every phone has an IMEI number, and in most cases, it is illegal to sell or purchase them. But it doesn’t mean those phones are good due to this, because the phones that lack the number are mostly counterfeit or fake phones, and they are already harmful to the person.
They can have their own tracking devices or privacy breaching hardware present inside, so having such phones can be risky for your privacy. You can track your phone or have it under surveillance for legal purposes. There are also rumors that many government agencies carry phones without IMEI number, so they can’t be tracked by counter-intelligence agencies.
How to Check the IMEI Number?
If you are buying a new phone, then the IMEI number will be available on the box, you can find it and have it checked. And for those who don’t have a new phone, you can just type “#06#” in the number keypad and click the call button, then it will show your IMEI number.
Benefits of IMEI Number
There are lots of benefits of this number that are worth the risk of being tracked by the government, which may not even be using your info in a bad way. Some of them are
- Your IMEI number in the new phone can be put on sites that will tell you specifically what features you have on your phone, and whether it is blacklisted/reported, so you can know whether it is stolen before buying a secondhand phone.
- It’s a fact that IMEI numbers have prevented and stopped countless thieves from stealing phones, they can get tracked or blocked on networks and you won’t have to worry about your information getting leaked.
- Having an IMEI number shows that your phone is legit and is not from fake companies, there have been millions of knock-offs of big phone brands and the IMEI number is the best way to check whether they are good and original.
- While it can be used against you, it’s better to not feel paranoid about it and think of it in a way that the IMEI number is there for our safety, and for preventing our loss. It’s worth the risk of something that may not even be bad.
Can It Be Used for Hacking?
If you want to know, “what someone can do with my IMEI number”, the answer is, not much, they may not even be able to get that easily, let alone hack it. Some rumors do say that after getting someone’s IMEI number, you can hack into their WhatsApp. However, we don’t know for sure, maybe with the IMEI number of the sim card, it might be possible to hack apps that require sim numbers, or other details.
This can lead to having your information leaked, private messages breached, and maybe even bank accounts compromised. There is another way to have your phone hacked with your IMEI number, the hacker can make you download a file that will seem harmless at first, but it will be feeding the information to the hacker through your phone without even noticing. So, to stay on the safe side, it’s better to keep the number between you, the phone company, and the government.
It’s better to stay cautious by removing the root of such causes and feel less paranoid. Keep your IMEI number safe and then you won’t have any worry about getting your info leaked.
How to Know If Someone Hacked Your Phone
If your phone starts acting unnatural, which refers to having bad networks, slow charging, and low battery life. If you start noticing these things in your device for no reason, then you should consider it hacked and download an anti-malware, which will help you detect the problem and stop it from its root.
Since there is no way to have 2 identical IMEI numbers, this can be a planned hacking and you should try to make yourself safer.
Don’t Tell Your IMEI to Anyone
Since now you know what can someone do with my IMEI number, you should know that it’s better to hide it and keep it safe to yourself, just to make sure you are on the safe side. Although hacking through IMEI number is rare and not many people try it, it can still be harmful and you can take precautions against it. The best way to do that is by not telling anyone your IMEI number, if they don’t know, they won’t be able to do anything. It’s as simple as that.
In the end, IMEI numbers are intended to just be numbers that can help recognize the phone, and there are no malicious reasons for implanting it on a different part. However, since people can have bad intentions, it should be kept safe and you shouldn’t tell anyone.
Even if IMEI numbers are just hardcoded messages on the part of the phone, they carry information regarding the device only, and no IMEI number carries personal info. The information you put when setting up your phone is not that extreme and it can’t be used against you, and only that information can be found in the IMEI number.
The best thing to do is relax and use it in your favor, have the government do their legal research, and keep track of your activities, which is perfectly fine if you aren’t in any illegal things. You can also use it to get your device to be blocked on different networks in case of thievery.
It can be used against you if someone finds your IMEI number and reports it against you, leaving you blocked on your own device. So, be careful and keep your IMEI number safe with you.