A few months after Apple released iOS 5 to the public last year, a major bug was found in the software’s new iMessage application. Several users reported that their iMessage accounts continued to remain active after wiping their devices.

Gizmodo added fuel to the fire yesterday when it published several images of strange iMessage conversations it was receiving on an iPhone after visiting an Apple Store for tech support. Apparently, when a Genius inserted his personal SIM card into the phone to test the device, the handset locked on to his iMessage account…

After months of silence regarding the so-called iMessage bug, Apple gave a statement to The Loop this morning claiming that what happened with Gizmodo’s iPhone isn’t the result of a bug. It was simply an employee error.

“This was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison told The Loop. “This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”

So how do you keep this from happening to you? Well for starters, you might think twice before dropping your SIM card into another device. But if you must do it, make sure you toggle the device’s iMessage switch off and then on again once the original SIM card is re-inserted. The Loop says that doing this will unregister your iMessage account with the device.

You can find the switch by going into your device’s Settings app, and tapping on the Messages tab. Since Apple doesn’t see this as an actual “bug,” we may never see an official fix for this. So it might be a good idea to remember this tip.

Have you noticed your iMessage account staying active after wiping your device?

  • being that all these stories are happening on devices with a SIM card , does that mean Verizon iPhones are in the clear?

    • Anonymous

      Do Verizon iPhone’s not have sim cards then? I’m being serious btw, I live in England so honestly have no idea how it all works in the US.

      • Matt

        nope, no sim cards on verizon (CDMA)

      • Anonymous

        Cool, ya learn something new every day lol

      • Anonymous

        Well technically the iPhone 4S on Verizon does have a Sim card, but it isn’t used. To clarify, every iPhone 4S has a Sim card but whether it’s used or not it depends on the network

  • Anonymous

    of course it happens, many of my friends have switched from iOS to android and to this day my iphone tries to send them iMessage first even if they turned off iMessage on their iphones before switching.

  • Actually Verizon iPhones come with sims they just don’t connect to the network trough them

  • I work in tech support for phones and I run in to this issue at least once a week. most commonly what happens is customers use there phone when they get it, with the number they got with it, they then port there old number across, yet they continue to receive and send messages from the old number.

    its because there old number is still in there receive at list (settings>messages>receive at) sometimes it doesn’t refresh when you swap sims.

    to fix this in case you ever have this issue or someone you know has is to …

    1) turn off imessage (settings>messages>imessage)
    2) change you number to the correct number including dialling code i.e. +44 (settings>phone>my number)
    3) soft reset (hold down power and home until the screen goes blank)
    4) turn imessages back on, it will say verifying and then it will add you new number to the receive at list.
    5) ?????
    6) Profit

    • I’m normally on T-mobile. I recently used temporarily a prepaid sim (on my unlocked iphone 4). After putting back my normal sim, my iMessages caller ID is stuck on my email even though the option is set on my phone number. I’ve tried resetting all settings and turning imessages off then on etc.

      Anyone else have this? Any fixes?

      • A hard reset and not restoring from a back up would obviously do the trick but you could try this which is less drastic.

        Sign out of your apple id in the imessage settings.
        Turn off imessage.
        Then go to settings>general>reset network settings (you will need to re enter wifi passwords after this).
        After the phone has rebooted make sure your number is correct in, phone, my number.
        Turn imessages back on, should say verifying then come up with you number in receive at and caller id.