Losing your phone is always a bummer for you but not for everyone, not for the thief and certainly not for AT&T! That's right, AT&T and other cell phone service providers are the big winners when your phone is lost or stolen (and it's really a matter of when, not if...) because not only are you going to have to buy another phone but they are very likely to be writing a brand new service contract with the person now in possession of your phone - maybe even the thief himself!!
That probably best explains AT&T's current policy, or lack thereof, which permits your cell phone to be re-registered on their network by another user!! Yes, everyone should be aware that when your phone is lost or stolen, ATT policy allows the thief to use it himself or to post it for sale on eBay or Craig's List and sell it to anyone who can then sign up your phone to a new contract!!
My iphone was stolen. Tracking usage on ATT's site that same day I discovered the phone was being used. I texted my phone with a $150, no-questions-asked reward. No response. I called the numbers being called and told the new "users" friends that a friend of theirs had found my phone and if they heard from him/her to pls let them know I was looking for it and have them call me... Yeah, fat chance. Ten days later, nothing.
During the on-going discussion about my options with ATT CSRs I discovered that as soon as I replaced my phone and reactivated my account, the new possessor would be allowed to get an account of their own with my phone with none other than, wait for it... AT&T!!!! I call that an "outrage!"
Interestingly, if you report your XM radio stolen it can never be reactivated by anyone other than the original owner! Cell phone service providers could enforce a similar policy - cell phones have an electronic ID/serial number encoded in them - but they won't until they are forced by law or consumer pressure to do so.