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This online tool lets you check if your iPhone is stolen

Published May 14th, 2017 12:00PM EDT
How to Check a Stolen iPhone
Image: Reddit

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The best way to avoid buying a stolen iPhone is getting it from Apple, an electronics store, or a carrier. But because the iPhone comes with a rather high price tag, some people choose to purchase second-hand iPhone. These are still expensive, but the price is lower than what you’d pay in stores. In many cases, you can score a great iPhone deal, if you know what to look for. But there’s always the risk that seller stole the phone and it’s now looking to flip it. Thankfully, there’s now a simple service that tells you instantly whether the iPhone you want to buy or any other smartphone, has been stolen.

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you buy a stolen iPhone? Aside from the moral dilemmas, you can end up with a bricked device, or receive an unexpected visit from the owner and/or police.

Created the CTIA, the site will let anyone verify the status of a device. Whether you’re a private customer, a company, or a law enforcement organization, you’ll be able to see whether a device was stolen or not.

All you have to do is get the IMEI of a device that you want to purchase, which is a unique identification number. CTIA’s tool will compare the IMEI against multiple source databases, and return an instant result.

The IMEI number can be found on the back of some devices, including iPhones. If it’s not there, you have to head to the Settings section of the phone, find the About menu, and retrieve the IMEI.

The person selling the smartphone can also offer the IMEI so you can check it online well ahead of an actual meeting. Any resistance to sharing the number might be an indication that the phone was either lost or stolen.

Consumers can check up to five devices a day, but law enforcement agencies will get unlimited access. Hopefully, the tool will prevent buyers from purchasing used iPhones that were stolen from their rightful owners, and make it harder for thieves to sell them.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.