What is the purpose of an IMEI number?
IMEI numbers are used by mobile network operators (MNOs) to identify and verify a device when it tries to connect to their network. If the IMEI of the device matches an authorised identifier on the global IMEI database, then it will be permitted to traverse data over the network. If it doesn’t match an authorised identifier, then the device will not be granted permission to utilise the network. This is a very common occurrence when it comes to mobile phones as many handsets are locked to specific networks upon purchase.
They can also be used to identify devices when they have been lost or stolen. Reporting the IMEI of a missing device to the police can help make sure it is returned to the rightful owner. For this reason, it’s important you make a note of your IMEI numbers and keep them safe. You should never share these device identifier codes with third parties for security reasons.
If your cellular devices are being misused or not adhering to fair usage policies set out by the networks, MNOs have the ability to blacklist IMEI numbers via the global IMEI database. Since all networks can access the database, a blacklisted identifier would prevent your device from being able to operate on any network. It can be a very difficult process to get an IMEI number removed from the blacklist once it has been added.