How To Identify A Stolen Phone Before Buying It Online

Purchasing a used phone online might help you save a lot of money. It can be a great way to get your hands on the latest model without having to pay full price. But, there is always the risk of buying a secondhand phone.

One of those risks is it being a stolen one, which can cause you a lot of money and headaches down the road. Not only that it can cause legal trouble, but the phone might not have all the features and working properly.

When looking to buy a used phone online, there are some things you can do to try and determine if the phone is stolen.

Here, we will go over five ways that you can use to try and identify a stolen phone before making your purchase.



The first way to try and identify a stolen phone is by looking at the price. If the phone is being offered at a significantly lower price than its market value, then there might be something wrong with it.

Try to find out the market value of a phone through different websites. These websites will show you similar phones that are being sold and give you an idea of how much the phone should cost.

Another way to find out the market value is by going to the manufacturer’s website. They will have different models listed and their corresponding prices.

If you are still unsure about the phone’s price, then you can always ask the seller. But be cautious, as they might try to lie to you about the phone’s value.

Asking for Documentation

When buying a used car, you would want to see its maintenance records. The same goes for a used phone.

If you buy a used phone, you should always ask the seller for documentation. This documentation can include a receipt of purchase, warranty information and even proof that they are the original owner of the phone.

Also, make sure that the documentation is from a reputable source. For example, the receipt of purchase should be from the phone’s carrier or retailer and not from a random website.

Selling Reason

A legitimate reason for selling a used phone would be because they are upgrading to a newer model. While an illegitimate reason would be because the phone is lost, damaged or stolen.

If the seller cannot give you a concrete answer as to why they are selling the phone, then it might be best to cancel your purchase.

Asking for the Phone’s ESN or IMEI Number

The ESN or IMEI number is a unique number that is assigned to every phone. This number can be used to track a phone if it is lost or stolen.

You should always ask the seller for the ESN or IMEI number. Once you have this number, you can call your carrier and ask if the phone is reported lost or stolen.

This can be a great way to determine if the phone is stolen before making your purchase.

Examine The Condition Of The Phone

Check the physical appearance of the phone. If the phone has any cracks, dents or scratches, then it might have been dropped or damaged.

While this is not a sure way to determine if the phone is stolen, it can be an indicator that something might be wrong with it.

If you are still unsure about the condition of the phone, then you can always ask the seller. They should be able to give you more information about the phone’s condition.

Another thing is you need to check the software of the phone. Make sure that all the features are working properly and that there are no unusual settings.

If you cannot access certain features or if the phone’s software has been tampered with, then it might be a stolen phone.

These are just a few ways that you can use to try and identify a stolen phone before buying it. Sometimes, it might be hard to identify a stolen phone.

But if you are still unsure, then it might be best to cancel your purchase and look for another phone dealer where you are sure that you are getting a legitimate device.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If your device is not listed, place your order as an Unknown Device. Please review our list of accepted electronics to ensure your device falls into one of the classifications. Following our fee-free shipping, we will evaluate your device and send you a quote. If you choose not to sell, your device will be returned to you free of charge!

Yes! We accept a vast amount of different electronic devices regardless of condition. To find out how much your damaged device is worth, locate your device on our website, select your model, and indicate the condition to receive an instant quote. If it has any value, we will compensate you accordingly. Otherwise, we would recycle it responsibly for you

There are a few reasons why the quoted payment can change following our evaluation:

  • You did not accurately select the condition of the device (most common).
  • The device has defects that are not indicated on your order.
  • You chose the wrong device or device model when completing your order.

Our customer service team is happy to answer any additional questions about changes to your quote

Our grading standard is different from what people usually would think. Our professional technicians base their evaluation on the quality of factors such as the

  • Screen
  • Frame
  • Backside
  • USB Charging Port

It is common for people to believe their phone is ‘like new,’ only to have a slightly different definition of the term compared to the industry standards.

If you don’t see your device on our list, email us at for your free quote. Include the device brand, model, and serial number in your message. We will have our technician deliver an estimate within 24 hours.

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