How to check if the phone you’re buying was stolen

If you’re in the market for a used iPhone, it’s always a good idea to ask the owner to disable Find My iPhone, which automatically turns off Apple’s theft-deterring Activation Lock feature.

But what if you’re buying a non-Apple smartphone? Can you still check if it was stolen? As it turns out, that’s exactly what CTIA’s Stolen Phone Checker service does for you.

Powered by the GSMA Device Check service, which provides up to 10 years’ of a device’s history as well as the device model information and capabilities, the free Stolen Phone Checker tool is an online service designed to help consumers, businesses and law enforcement agencies make informed purchasing decisions and limit the resale of lost and stolen mobile devices.

TUTORIAL: How to find your iPhone’s IMEI number

This is a US-only service so this tutorial may not apply to international readers.

How to check if the phone you’re buying was stolen

1) Visit on your device.

2) Enter the IMEI, MEID or ESN of the phone you’re about to purchase. If you’re buying an iPhone, you can find this information in Settings → General → About. If you’re buying a non-Apple smartphone, ask the owner to provide the IMEI number.

check for stolen iphone

3) Solve the captcha and click the Submit button.

check for stolen iphone

If the phone isn’t stolen,“Not reported lost or stolen” should appear next to Device Status along with some useful information, including the device model, manufacturer and more.

Regular consumers are allowed to check up to find phones per day. Again, this service is limited solely to consumers in the United States.

Related tutorials

Check out the following how-tos:

Wrapping it up

If you have a question, post a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer it. Please share this tutorial on social media and pass it along to the folks you support.

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