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Are You Buying a Stolen Phone?

stolen phone

Buying secondhand can be a great way to obtain a new smartphone without spending a lot of money. But besides hardware defects and fakes, there’s one important thing you need to watch out for when buying a used smartphone: whether it’s a stolen phone or not.

Before you go buying a used smartphone, first verify if the seller can be trusted. If he has an online seller account on eBay, for instance, review the comments left by his previous buyers and watch out for any major complaints. If his reputation is fairly clean, then he’s likely selling a legitimate handset.

If the identity and reputation of a seller is hard to uncover, consider doing these precautionary measures before making a purchase. First, ask for the phone’s ESN/IMEI. These two are basically numeric identifiers unique to every phone. You can pass this information to your carrier, which can verify if the phone has been reported stolen. Better yet, ask the seller for proof of purchase, such as a receipt or a contract, to see if he legally owns the device.

It’s also best buying a used smartphone from a seller you can meet in person. Arrange for a meeting at a safe, public location where you two can make a transaction. Before handing over your money, inspect the phone first and see if it works by inserting a SIM card. If you notice a message relating to an issue with the ESN/IMEI, then it is likely a stolen phone and has been reported and consequently blocked by your carrier.

Once again, it’s important to buy from a trusted source, whether you’re looking for a brand-new smartphone or just a cheaper, second hand unit. Avoid making a purchase if your sense something wrong with an offer. There are always some risks involved when you’re buying just about any item, so shop wisely.

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