Don’t buy a used iPhone or phone without doing it first! For anyone buying a used iPhone or Android phone, checking it out should be a top priorityif the iPhone or phone has been stolen or reported as lost .

The reason is simple; A stolen iPhone or phone that has been reported as lost may not work at all if the carrier has blocked access to the device over a wireless network. This essentially means that buying a stolen iPhone or phone can be a waste of money (not mentioning participating in trading in stolen goods).

The good news is that CTIA, which represents the US wireless industry, has created a super easy-to-use website that makes it easy to check if an iPhone or smartphone has been stolen or reported as lost.

The website is called and maintains an IMEI, MEID or ESN number through the database. It reports whether a device has been reported as lost or stolen.

How to check if you are buying a stolen iPhone or Android phone

This is a super easy two step process. All you need is the phone’s IMEI number and you can run it against a central database set up by the phone companies:

  1. or Android you can also dial * # 06 # on the phone
  2. and enter your IMEI number on the website
  3. If your iPhone or phone is reported stolen or lost, consider not buying it and find another device to buy instead

That’s all there is to be done. You can check up to five device IMEI numbers per day to see if they have been stolen, lost or not.

Always do this before buying a used phone!

To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a used iPhone or smartphone – I’ve bought used phones several times myself. Usually my goal is refurbished iPhones with an easy return policy. If for some reason it doesn’t work right away, it’s safe to return. Seemingly too good to be true Auctions, eBay, or Craigslist tend to be too good to be true. A current model of used iPhone will never realistically sell for $ 100 or a low sum. If the price is too good or too cheap, or the seller is inaccurate, be skeptical. Always check the IMEI first.

By the way, not only is our advice to check out a used phone before buying it, the CTIA Wireless Association recommends doing the same:

Before buying or selling a used mobile device, it is a good idea to check to see if the device has been lost or stolen. This is because the rightful owner may have already requested to prevent the device from accessing cellular networks if someone accidentally purchases a lost or stolen device. The rightful owner may also have activated a device protection feature that prevents the use of the device and makes the device unusable.

Makes sense right? So don’t skip this if you are in the used phone market. You could save yourself a real headache and waste of money. This service may not detect every phone that is misappropriated or lost, especially if it has not yet been reported missing. However, it’s worth checking out just in case.

And one more thing: if you’re looking to buy a used iPhone, don’t forget that the previous owner of the iPhone will delete their iCloud account from the device and completely shut down iCloud on the device and then do a factory reset. Although you can remotely remove iCloud activation lock, it is more annoying and much better handled by the owner personally. Apple used to offer a way to check this page online, but this page has not been available for a while. Maybe I’ll come back in the future. Almost all good phone renewal services and certified resellers will reset devices and make sure they are unlocked. However, it’s always good to inquire and make sure.

Do you have any other tips to avoid lost or stolen phones? Any advice or experience? Let us know in the comments.

How to check whether the iPhone you bought was stolen or not

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