It’s no secret that some modern smartphones cost as much as a decent computer system. That’s why used phones are in such high demand these days.
Buying a used smartphone sight-unseen is a risky endeavor because there’s no way to know how much abuse the device has received or what kind of shape it’s actually in.
Even worse, if the phone you’re thinking about purchasing was lost or stolen it could well be locked in order to prevent it from being activated by a new owner – which could be you if you end up buying it.
Things are easier if you’re buying a used phone in person because you can actually hold it in your hand and make sure it works.
If it powers up and you can make phone calls and send text messages on it, the odds are pretty decent that it hasn’t either been stolen or lost by the original owner and “found” by the seller.
But what if you’re buying a used phone from someone on Ebay or Craigslist and they’re going to ship the phone to you? A situation like that pretty much eliminates the possibility of holding the phone in your hand and putting it through its paces.
About all you can do when considering a long-distance purchase is check the phone’s IMEI number against a blacklist database to make sure it hasn’t been reported lost or stolen. Luckily, that’s pretty easy to do, and it won’t cost you a penny. Just follow the instructions below…
First, ask the seller to give you the phone’s IMEI number. If he/she cannot or will not provide the IMEI number, there’s probably a reason so you should probably pass on the deal and buy your phone elsewhere.
The above being said, there’s a good chance that the seller simply doesn’t know how to find the phone’s IMEI number. If that’s the case, you can always tell him/her how to find it. It’s really easy.
How to find the IMEI number on an iPhone:
1 – Tap Settings.
2 – Tap General.
3 – Tap About. You should now see a list of information about this particular phone.
4 – Scroll down and you will see the phone’s IMEI number listed somewhere in the list of details.
How to find the IMEI number on an Android phone:
Note: The steps required for finding the IMEI number on some Android phones might vary slightly from the steps listed below, but you (or the person wanting to sell you a phone) should be able to easily find it in the settings.
1 – Tap Settings.
2 – Tap About phone.
3 – You should now see a list of various types of technical info about this particular phone.
4 – Scroll down and you will see the phone’s IMEI number displayed somewhere in the list.
After you have the phone’s IMEI number, visit www.imeipro.info and enter the IMEI number into the search box and click the Check button. The website will search the blacklist database to see if the phone has been reported lost or stolen.
That’s all there is to it. Now you know how to check to see whether a phone you’re thinking about buying has been reported lost or stolen.
Disclaimer: While the website referenced above is a great tool for helping determine the legal status of a phone before you purchase it, it is not infallible.
The phone must have been reported lost or stolen for its IMEI number to show up in the blacklist database. If the phone’s real owner has yet to discover that his/her phone is missing, it won’t be reported as lost or stolen, therefore the “Blacklist Status” will come up “Clean”.
Also, the seller could easily provide you with the IMEI number of a different phone that he/she knows hasn’t been reported lost or stolen and then ship you a phone that’s actually in the Blacklist Database.
In other words, while this tool can help, it shouldn’t be taken as a 100% guarantee that your purchase will end up being problem-free. Proceed with caution!
Bottom line: Whenever possible, buy your used phone from someone local who will agree to let you check the phone out in person and retrieve the IMEI number from the phone yourself so you can check it against the Blacklist Database.