Mobile phones these days are ridiculously expensive, so it’s no wonder that more of us are deciding to buy a used model. After all, you can save a fortune and still get your hands on a pretty impressive piece of kit.
However, if you’re buying a second-hand device you might be concerned that you could be accidentally buying a phone which has been stolen - after all, millions of smartphones are stolen every year. So, how do you make sure that your used handset is a genuine purchase?
Choose Your Seller Carefully
The first thing you can do to make sure your second-hand mobile hasn’t been stolen is to only buy from a seller that you know is reliable and reputable. Many carriers offer refurbished or used phones for sale on their website, although the prices will be higher. There are also sites which specialise in selling on second hand devices and you will also have a guarantee if you buy through them. Although you will usually get a better price on eBay, reputation cannot be guaranteed.
Check The Basics
Whichever site you choose to buy your second-hand phone from, there should be some basic information about the handset. Its colour, model number and its storage capacity should certainly be in the description, and a description of its condition should also be there with details of any scratches or screen damage.
If possible, look for a listing which shows a photograph of the phone itself instead of a product shot showing the same model, and if it’s possible to directly contact the phone’s owner, you could also ask for more photographs to ensure it meets the description.
Getting The Numbers
One of the best ways to ensure you aren’t buying a stolen device is to check device IMEI/MEID/ESN numbers. All you need to do is ask the seller of the phone for its IMEI number or serial number and you can check it online to find out its history. This will let you know whether the phone has been blacklisted or whether it has been stolen. If the seller won’t share that information with you, you should definitely walk away from the sale.
Get Visual Proof
Although it may not be easy, it’s always best if you can get visual evidence of the seller unlocking their phone, logging in and out of iCloud or other apps and turning off the Find My Phone function so you can easily see at a glance that you’ll be able to access the phone and that the seller has the right login credentials.
If you live near the seller, you could ask to meet them in person so you can see that the passcode has been disabled and that you won’t have any difficulty getting into the phone. If you find that the seller says that they’ve forgotten the password or that they’re selling it for a friend, walk away from the sale.
If you’re going to buy a second-hand mobile phone, you need to know that you can return it if there turns out to be some kind of problem with your purchase. If you buy from a reliable seller, there should be some sort of guarantee in place which will allow you to send the phone back and get it repaired or get your money back if you discover a fault.