Phone locking is the carrier practice of ‘sim locking’ a device to only work on a particular carrier’s network. In 2023, it is common practice for carriers to offer ‘installment’ plans on purchasing phones. During this purchase window, carriers might ‘lock’ the device to only work on their network.
While different carriers may have different policies, Verizon is unique because it has FCC regulations it MUST follow in regards to the topic.
As part of the agreement to the wireless spectrum that Verizon leases, Verizon cannot lock devices to its own network. In 2019, the FCC allowed a temporary 60-day device lock for ‘fraud prevention’ only.
Fraud prevention is the key here to knowing your consumer rights. Several advocacy groups, the FCC, and Verizon worked together when crafting the temporary 60-day lock policy. Some advocacy groups wanted a written policy to allow for early ‘device unlocking’, but Verizon affirmed to the FCC that no policy would be necessary as they would “review any unique or unusual circumstances with the customer on a case-by-case basis”
It is key to note that the temporary 60 day lock was provided to Verizon only as a tool to be used against ‘fraud’ (no other reason can apply)
What is Verizon’s current ‘case-by-case basis’ policy? Current customers must call in to Verizon’s Technical support team. Verizon’s initial customer service representative will take note of your circumstances and forward it to their internal team for an ‘early unlock request’. That team is supposed to review the request, and either approve or deny the unlock request with a notice of the outcome within 24 hours.
UPDATE: 01/11/23: A representative that used to work in the escalation department, reached out and clarified Verizon’s policy for unlocking cellular devices before the 60 day window. According to this representative, Verizon’s policy is to deny all unlock requests unless the purchase was completed with a PIV Card (chip-in-card) or paid with cash – the representative stated that any other form of purchase would result in a denied unlock request per Verizon’s current policies.
In our own personal experience, we had a newly purchased device paid-in-full purchased from Verizon. The user of the phone was traveling and wanted to use the secondary SIM on an international carrier to reduce any travel or roaming charges Verizon might charge. When we requested the device to be unlocked for this trip, we had to know several pieces of information for our account with Verizon (including our secret account pin). That information in itself should have validated that the request was not ‘fraudulent’ nor was the purchase of the device ‘fraudulent’.
That scenario should have been very easy for Verizon to have approve the SIM unlock request:
- the account and purchase were verified to not be fraudulent
- irrelevant detail: Verizon wasn’t losing any business, as we were not requesting to port the number or change any service plans.
That basic device unlocking request was still denied, with no further way to appeal. Attempted appeals were done by contacting the ‘tier 2’ phone support team, but they also indicated there would be no unlock waiver granted. Verizon’s only advise was to use their daily $10 travel pass. This is when it dawned on us: Verizon had no interest in unlocking a phone if they could charge $10 a day for basic cellular use.
How do you get a device early unlock request granted?
Before escalating anything, at a minimum submit the initial request through Verizon’s phone support. This allows Verizon’s team to first have a chance to unlock the device – you might get lucky and get it handled without further escalation.
The fastest method we have found to escalating the device unlock is by submitting your request to both the Verizon escalation team and simultaneously submitting an informal FCC complaint, our own request was completed in a matter of 2 hours.
Submitting a Verizon escalation ticket
Visit the corporate leadership page at: https://www.verizon.com/about/our-company/executive-bios.
From there you can select the most relevant executive to submit the ticket request to. Don’t worry all emails are funneled internally to the executive escalations team and not to the executive themselves.
In this email supply:
- Your account information
- The reason for the unlock request
- A reminder or quote of the FCC rules permitted temporary device locking for ‘fraud prevention’ only
- Confirmation that you tried submitting the request through proper channels first
Submitting an Informal FCC Complaint
Visit the FCC Informal Complaint system and submit a ticket at: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744
- Your email address
- Description of the issue
- ‘Billing / Other’ complaint
- Wireless number
- Your carrier billing information
A sample template is supplied below:
Good day and to whomever can best assist:
This is in regards to a Verizon Account XXXX with the phone number: XXX-XXX-XXXX
I have a newly purchased phone purchased on a (purchase type). This device is scheduled to travel internationally (dates). The issue is the device is still under the 60-day fraud prevention lock. In general, while traveling – I use both Verizon and international carriers (dual SIM) for the best stability in service. I requested a SIM Unlock request from Verizon support – but our request was denied.
Verizon stated to the FCC that you “will review any unique or unusual circumstances with the customer on a case-by-case basis” in regards to unlocking a device early – https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-19-593A1.pdf
Verizon’s request to the FCC to lock devices was based on the claim on fraud prevention, I have called in, verified my account, and have verified that this purchase was done intentionally (not fraud) – yet Verizon has denied the SIM unlock request.
We have been a (how many years) year wireless customer – we are not selling the device, we are not porting out phone numbers, we are not doing anything to cause Verizon business loss. We simply want to use the device’s dual sims while traveling internationally.
I am requesting a formal response by Verizon’s leadership to explain why this request was denied. I believe this request should have been approved under the “case-by-case basis” Verizon stated it would follow. The FCC allowed Verizon to temporarily lock phones for fraud prevention, but not to exploit additional fees from international traveling customers.
If this was simply a Verizon mistake and an unlock should have been permitted in this matter, please escalate this issue urgently.
Thank you for your time in the matter, XXXXX
Device ID for the SIM Unlock Request: XXXXX
Let us know if Verizon honored your request in the comments below or if you have any updated tips to contribute!
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