Many people prefer buying pre-owned iPhones rather than investing a huge sum for brand new ones. It is a smart choice because most of the used iPhones are up to 2-3 years old. However, there is a serious problem that you should be aware of while purchasing used iPhones. Some of these can be blacklisted due to misuse or theft. Earlier there was no way to tell if the used iPhone was lost or stolen. Now, mobile carriers have started maintaining GSM blacklist which can be used to verify if the iPhone IMEI is blacklisted.
Ownership of the blacklist
One thing you should know is that although blacklisting happens at the device level, there is little involvement of the phone manufacturer. So, in this case Apple does not own or maintain the blacklist. It is the carriers or mobile networks who control & maintain this list. There are also telecom governing bodies in each country who take the responsibility of maintaining such list.
The primary way in which blacklisting is done is by blacklisting iPhone’s IMEI number. IMEI number as you might know is a unique identifier for every device. So, by blacklisting IMEI, the iPhone is immediately rendered useless for future use. There are 2 main scenarios in which blacklisting normally happens for an iPhone. Firstly, if the iPhone is lost or stolen then the blacklist database is updated with device’s IMEI number. Other scenario is when the user of the iPhone has not paid his bills for a long period. In this case too, the mobile carrier can blacklist the IMEI.
Purpose of blacklisting IMEI
Main purpose of blacklisting IMEI is to prevent future use of the iPhone. This might sound like an extreme step, but it is only done in specific cases as cited above. With the advent of blacklist, iPhone thefts have gone down drastically because stolen iPhone is no longer of any value.
What it means for you as a buyer?
While buying any pre-owned iPhone, you must ensure that it’s IMEI isn’t blacklisted. It is very difficult to re-activate a blacklisted IMEI as there are lot of things involved. Also, if you think that you can use blacklisted iPhone in some other country then you are wrong. IMEI is a universal number for the device and no matter where you go, once the IMEI is blacklisted, the iPhone is useless.
Since the creation of these blacklist databases, it’s easy for consumers to check the status of any device with the proper tools.
Which tools can you use?
- IMEITrackerOnline.com(Link): This a very good free web tool for tracking phones by IMEI numbers but it also has a feature where you can see if the IMEI is blacklisted.
- Apple’s own tool: Apple also has a tool for iCloud account holders that can indicate if the device is still protected by Activation Lock.
- Mobile Carriers: This is also a good option if you have some spare time. You will need to visit the nearest carrier store who can check the IMEI for you. Most carriers won’t do it over phone as it is sensitive information.
Can it be reversed?
There are many online sites which claim to be able to get your IMEI removed from the blacklist. However, you should be cautious while using such sites because only the carriers have the power to remove blacklist.