IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers are a source of both mystery and obsession within many circles around the Internet.  These cryptic numbers stamped around several parts of your phone are typically used to identify phones, leading some to wonder whether they can be used for surveillance and other iniquitous activity. This webcast will demystify IMEI numbers and will tell you exactly what they are, how they work, and how exactly you can find them. 

What is an IMEI or Internal Mobile Equipment Identity Number? 

The IMEI number is a number that is used to identify a device that makes use of terrestrial cellular networks. But what is a terrestrial cellular network? Well, it is a network you use when you place a call on your cell phone or access an Internet connection provided by your cellular carrier company through your data plan. It is called as terrestrial because it makes use of planet-side antennas, not the satellites, to connect. 

Since the IMEI standard is used for any terrestrial cellular network device, it means that 3G/4G tablets, laptops with PCMCIA wireless internet cards, and other mobile equipment are also tagged with these numbers. So if you have a dual-SIM phone, you will notice two IMEI numbers, one for each SIM slot. 

What is the Use of an IMEI Number? 

IMEI numbers have one primary use; to identify the mobile devices. However, their secondary purpose is to prevent theft. If a mobile device can be universally identified, a thief cannot change the SIM card on a phone and expects to keep the phone. IMEI numbers are hard-coded into the device hardware, making it almost impossible to change them without even damaging the device.

When a cellular carrier knows that a device has been stolen, it can simply blacklist the IMEI code and locks it out of the network. As a result, it notifies other cellular networks to do the same. 

Can Government use the IMEI Number to Track anyone? 

Well, the precise answer is yes. And it actually depends. If the government cannot attach a name or some form of personal identification to your IMEI number, they don’t know who your phone really belongs to. If you have a contract with a mobile carrier, the government could use a search warrant to access your IMEI information for number and location tracking. So even if you swap out your SIM card with a prepaid one, you can still be traced. 

Government is not the only entity you should think about. Well, hackers can also trace you if necessary using your IMEI number. Although, neither of these situations happen very often to the average citizen. 

How to Check your IMEI Number? 

On Android 

The fastest method of checking the IMEI number on your phone is to open your keypad and type *#06#. Your IMEI number will pop on your screen instantly. You won’t be able to copy and paste the number, unfortunately, so you will need to note it down separately to keep hold of it. 

Also, you can go to Settings> About Phone> Status> IMEI Information. 

On an iPhone

The method for checking IMEI on your iPhone is very much the same. Just dial *#06# on your phone keypad, and your Internal Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) will appear on your screen. 

If there is anything that has helped us all stop thieves in their pursuit most effectively, it is the International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI standard. Although the number could still be used against you, it is still worth the risk. What do you think? 

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