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Apple will no longer repair an iPhone reported as stolen or lost

Apple iPhone 13 Software

If someone reports an iPhone as stolen or missing, Apple will no longer repair it. That’s according to a leaked internal memo that informs Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Services Providers of the new repair policy.

Repair technicians will see a message pop up in their internal MobileGenius or GSX systems telling them the device is stolen/missing. In that case, they’ll have to decline repairs.

The new memo obtained by MacRumors aims to reduce the number of stolen iPhones brought to Apple for repairs. In turn, this might dissuade sales of stolen iPhones.

Can a stolen iPhone be used?

You should protect your iPhone with a password (Touch ID/Face ID) because it’ll render the device useless if lost or stolen. Thieves won’t be able to resell it, as others can’t use the handset as long as there’s a lock on the screen. Activation Lock is a great protection that you’ll hopefully never have to use.

However, if they can somehow get into your phone and disable the protection, they could reset the handset and sell it to someone else.

There’s also another way to use a stolen iPhone. Thieves might steal handsets directly from Apple or its partners. Or from buyers before they’ve had a chance to activate them. In such a case, the devices are practically brand new, and one could easily activate and use them.

You can report a stolen device to authorities. In turn, these reports might end up in the GSMA Device Registry. That’s an extensive database accessible internationally that will contain records of all stolen iPhones.

iPhone 13 Pro Front
iPhone 13 Pro Front Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

New Apple repair policy

According to the report, the GSMA Device Registry database will inform Apple Stores and third-party repair shops part of Apple’s Authorized Service Providers chain whether the iPhone is eligible for repairs.

Apple and its partners are already unable to repair iPhones and other devices that have Find My iPhone turned on. If a customer can’t disable the functionality, Apple will not be able to fix the handset.

Also, Apple won’t just unlock an iPhone with Activation Lock turned on. There’s a support document detailing the steps you need to go through to have the handset erased. Among other things, you’ll have to prove you own the device for Apple to help.

It’s unclear when the new iPhone repair policy will go into effect. People worried they might have purchased a stolen iPhone from the black market will be able to repair their devices at third-party shops unaffiliated with Apple. But even so, your best bet is trying with Apple or an authorized repair shop. That way, you’ll know if there’s anything fishy with your device.

Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro next to each other on a table
Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro next to each other on a table. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

What you can do to protect yourself

If you own an iPhone or plan on buying one, you should always use a hard-to-guess PIN. Also, make sure that Find My/Activation Lock is turned on your device. If you lose your handset or someone steals it, your data remains safe.

If you purchase an iPhone from a different person, you might want to have them offer you proof of purchase. Alternatively, you can check yourself online to see if the device you wish to purchase has been stolen or blacklisted. You’ll need the phone’s IMEI and a site like the CTIA’s Stolen Phone Checker.

Finally, if you own a stolen iPhone that needs repairs, you’ll have to find alternatives to Apple’s authorized repair services. That exposes you to other risks, including a poor repair job. But you already operate a stolen iPhone, so you’ll have to deal with it.

As a rule of thumb, you should seek official repair shops to fix the iPhone or other Apple products. That way, you can be more confident you will get a well-trained technician to do the job.


More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.