What is a blacklisted iPhone?

What exactly is a blacklisted iPhone?

The business of blacklisted iPhones is confusing to say the least. Only within the last few years have North American carriers started developing national and global databases to share devices listed as lost or stolen. Previously, consumers couldn’t be sure if a device was stolen when buying pre-owned iPhones. With the creation of a GSM blacklist, there is easy access to see if you’re dealing with a blacklisted iPhone.

If you want a guarantee that your phone will not be blacklisted, Orchard — Canada’s #1 reseller of preowned smartphones — offers a lifetime blacklist guarantee.

Who controls the blacklist?

You might think that Apple has the power to blacklist an iPhone, but it’s actually only the wireless carriers that are responsible for blacklisting a device. Apple cannot change the status of a blacklisted iPhone, in fact they have a hands off policy for any devices that may have been stolen.

Wireless carriers build their database through the iPhone’s IMEI number, otherwise known as the International Mobile Equipment Identity. An iPhone reported as lost or stolen results in the device being put on the blacklist through this unique IMEI number. Blacklisting can also occur if the user of a device is no longer able to pay for their contract or it was acquired through fraud.

Why does blacklisting exist?

The idea behind the blacklist came from the increase in theft of mobile phones. A blacklist makes smartphones less of a target for criminals by making resale nearly impossible. Unlike a SIM card, which is replaceable, the IMEI number is uniquely connected to that device. The IMEI makes it easy for carriers to track lost and stolen phones, locking them out from cellular networks. In addition to stopping criminals, consumers are given the ability to check if a pre-owned device was reported as lost or stolen before making the mistake of purchasing it.

The creation of the blacklist

Back in 2002, Europe was one of the first parts of the world to acknowledge the need for a shared database of stolen phones. By 2004, the GSMA, the trade association for global GSM mobile operators, launched an effort to increase the efficiency of tracking stolen phones across Europe. Nine years later, Canada developed the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) Blacklist in the end of September 2013.

“Not only will this national blacklist help to make smartphones a less valuable target for criminals, but the industry has also taken steps to help Canadian consumers identify if a pre-owned device has previously been reported as lost or stolen,” said CWTA President and CEO Bernard Lord.

The USA joined a shared carrier database in November 2013 after previously only co-operating between certain major operators. The Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) is an international industry trade group that assisted with the creation of this database. This shared blacklist also integrates with international databases to ensure complete cross-border tracking of stolen and lost devices.

Apple launched their own answer to the iPhone theft problem with their “Activation Lock” that arrived with iOS 7 in 2013. This feature locks a user’s Apple ID to their iPhone, requiring the password to be entered after erasing the device. Following its launch, major cities like New York witnessed a significant decrease in thefts of smartphones.

What blacklisting means for you

When an iPhone is put on a blacklist database, it prevents it from being activated on any wireless carrier until it is removed from the list. With databases being connected across the US, Canadian and international borders, this means that a blacklisted iPhone cannot bypass the system by being sold outside of the original country.

Blacklisting may not occur immediately, as the carriers might become aware of the situation after a device is sold instead of before. Bell was accused of blacklisting a pre-owned phone after it determined the original owner bought the phone through a fraudulent manner.

Since the creation of these blacklist databases, it’s easy for consumers to check the status of any device with the proper tools. This helps everyone make their own informed decisions as opposed to blindly purchasing a used device.

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Tools you can use:

  • Our CTIA-Accredited IMEI checker: Our IMEI checker will reveal if a phone is blacklisted. If you’re looking to buy a used phone from a stranger, always ask for the device’s IMEI. Use an IMEI checker to make sure the phone wasn’t stolen.
  • Apple Activation Lock Status: This official tool comes directly from Apple, helping users to determine if a device is still protected by Activation Lock. Simply enter the IMEI or serial number of any iPhone, iPad, iPod or Apple Watch, then Apple can tell you if Activation Lock is still enabled on that device.
  • Wireless Carriers: If you’re not sure about using any of these services or if you’re getting mixed answers, a simple call to the wireless carrier can answer your questions about an iPhone blacklist. Remember, carriers are the only ones who have the power to reverse a blacklisted iPhone. Contact the carrier associated with the device to ask about the IMEI status.

How to blacklist an iPhone or reverse a blacklisted iPhone

If you are the victim of a stolen or lost iPhone, simply contact your carrier to have it blacklisted. This provides an additional line of defence on top of Apple’s Activation Lock. Ultimately, stopping a criminal selling your device to someone else.

There are plenty of services that claim to be able to clean a blacklisted IMEI number. However, there is no guarantee that these services actually work. Having a device’s IMEI removed from the blacklist is something only the carriers are able to do. Having another service handle this process isn’t entirely legal.

If you do find a device that is on the blacklist, contacting the carrier is the best method for getting it back into the hands of its rightful owner.


Orchard is the only place to buy a used iPhone with a lifetime blacklist guarantee. If a phone ever ends up on the blacklist, we will replace it.

Et dans votre vie quotidienne? Le plaisir féminin n’étant pas la priorité dans beaucoup d’esprits ni de cours d’éducation sexuelle (doux euphémisme), certains de nos partenaires semblent un peu perdus quand il s’agit de passer à l’acte. Cette technique est utilisée par certains moines chinois jouets sexuels. De plus, certaines personnes peuvent faire des réactions allergiques.

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  • lisa griffin 26 December, 2016   Reply →

    i have an iphone 7 i am using it however when i ran an imei check on orchard says it is blacklisted i called pcs metro att verizon and apple and it is not on any of their sites can you help me find out why you r site says it si blacklisted

    it is working fine

    • Tom 10 May, 2019   Reply →

      Lisa, maybe ur checking on non-updated site, just try on Imei.info and check your Iphone 7 is blacklisted.

    • Sylvia wheaton 10 May, 2019   Reply →

      If you buy a new iphone and fine out that it is lock from the carrier and you report it what is done for me im out $500.00 for the new i phone XR hiw is it that i vcan get my money back it. Or do i just have to eat it on this deal ?

      • Ian Carroooooza 22 June, 2019   Reply →

        Buy a RSIM 14 and use it on a different network then the original blacklist. Working like a charm for me right now

        • Sindy 28 October, 2019   Reply →

          Where do u get or buy a rsim14

      • Jessica King 19 May, 2020   Reply →

        My mother n law gave my daughter her IPad. We do not have the 4 digit code to unlock it and she can not remember it and has since bought a new iPad and all of her info has been erased off of our iPad. How do I unlock it without it disassembling the device?

    • Andrey Glickstein 7 May, 2020   Reply →


  • Smith 13 October, 2017   Reply →

    These blacklisted iphones have a risk of being blocked or barred when updated to the current iOS, as i have faced these problems. So, do check all aspects before purchasing a phone.

  • Darice isom 11 December, 2017   Reply →

    Hey i purchased a iphone 7 off fb from someone any minutes later they reported it stolen, so when i went to thee carrier they told me people like to scam others out of money so they could upgrade there phone…smh now im stuck with an blacklisted iphone7 . I only could use it for 10minutes then it cuts off and everytime i have to call customer service to activate again, again!

    • Foca 18 October, 2018   Reply →

      Hi i have seen your comment about your phone i have the same problem. Is your phone working now can you used? The carrier has done anything for you?Thanks

    • Lady 22 June, 2019   Reply →

      My son found and iPhone 8+ on letgo for 250 so he message the person and asked all the right questions. So my son keep Beggin Me to take him to meet up with him. Will the deal was that my son will give him his IPhone 7 that was about 5 years old and 100 hundred dollars. He asked the guy if it was good to go and the guy said yes I reset and took all of his stuff off of it and said it was ready to go soon he put his SIM card in it . We try to see if it worked before we left but it did not have WiFi and my phone was not wanting to act right. Well when we got home he hurry up and Connect To the WiFi and turn it there was a lock on it.

    • Vanessa 3 January, 2020   Reply →

      Hi darice idol, we have same story purchased a iPhone 11 Pro off fb from someone and i found out is blacklisted phone. I don’t know what to do right now.

  • Lewanne Harness 14 December, 2017   Reply →

    i purchased an Apple Iphone 6s from Walmart in May 2016. I still have the receipt, when I went to sell it through Ebay valet, they informed me it was blacklisted, why? I paid 649.00 plus 6 percent tax. Please tell me why is would be listed blacklisted IMEI

  • randall morse 15 December, 2017   Reply →

    I am w/ xfinity mobile carrier which the imei number is verizon. it is in my name. i am currently in dispute about what i owe xfinity money. do they lock phone and/or black list it. i would like to unlock the phone. Can I?

  • randall morse 15 December, 2017   Reply →

    If you are late on payments and iphone is in my name does the carrier lock or black list it?

  • Sohaib 25 April, 2018   Reply →

    I baught secondhand iPhone 6 in Feb 2015. Even I did know how to check phone status. After using it for almost threes. It came to know that phone is black list. It’s working with just one network. Couple months before I contacted iPhone franchise two time and they say it alright with phone but it was/is not working except one carrier and I too contacted the carrier they said that we don’t keep the phone lock. Confuse😇☺️😇

  • prince 15 May, 2018   Reply →

    Good day , i bought an iphone 8 plus online after some days i checked the IMEI number it is blacklisted , after solving further to get the details or meaning from i was told the own didnt finished paying his contract on the phone that is why it is blacklisted by the carrier .

    please , what is your advise on this cause i dont know what to do . anyone with a solution ?

  • Sammy 11 July, 2018   Reply →

    If the iPhone is blacklisted but phone is from AT&T can i still use it with my carrier cricket?

  • HD 15 January, 2019   Reply →

    Hi i bought a phone which is blacklisted. I am thinking to travel back home for few days. Will it dangerous to carry this phone with me in Airport? Does it affect anything in security check during check-in to airport?

    • Andrea 27 June, 2019   Reply →

      No. It shouldn’t be. I have, accidentally.

    • Awais Rajpoot 8 April, 2020   Reply →

      My iphone is GSMA blacklisted And buy from USA
      If i use in Pakistan carrier is work?

      • Alex @ Orchard 9 April, 2020   Reply →

        Hi Awais, we cannot recommend that.

  • Miriam Byrne 6 October, 2019   Reply →

    I have a brand new iPhone from Verizon two weeks ago and aM blacklisted. Prior to this recent purchase, I had a iPhone 8 , which I turned in towards my new phone. I have never reported my “8” phone lost or stolen. Please remove my Verizon 11 from this black list. I think this has gone too far!
    Miriam Byrne

    • Alex Sebastian 8 October, 2019   Reply →

      Hi Miriam, I am not entirely sure that I follow, but unfortunately we can’t help with getting that iPhone 11 taken off the blacklist: you’ll have to work directly with Verizon for that. Good luck!

  • Jazmine Barnes 7 December, 2019   Reply →

    Can a unlock or carrier-less phone be blacklisted or reported lost or stolen?

    • Alex Sebastian 16 December, 2019   Reply →

      Yes, if a carrier originally sold the phone, then they are able to subsequently add it to the blacklist, even if the phone is currently unlocked.

  • GR 2 January, 2020   Reply →

    You can check Verizon blacklist status of your iPhone by IMEI at https://imei.tools/product/check-iphone-blacklist-status-by-imei/

  • Rachel 17 January, 2020   Reply →

    Hi all . I have reported two phones stolen . I got off the phone with a rep from ATT who assured me they have been blacklisted . My issue is, they are still able to iMessage and FaceTime using those numbers . Let me just say , this is a result of an ugly breakup and the guy and his son refuse to give back the phones or pay for the remaining balances . I do not have his Apple ID therefore cannot stop it that way . I am wanting to reuse these lines . Any suggestions on how to get those lines back/stop using them . Thanks 😊

    • Alex Sebastian 18 February, 2020   Reply →

      Hi Rachel, sorry for taking a while to get back to you. If the lines are on an account in your name, you can just ask that AT&T ‘port’ them to your phone. Give them a call — it shouldn’t be a problem. 🙂

  • Christopher Ramos 22 February, 2020   Reply →

    I bought a iphone11 pro max from someone and didn’t know it was blacklisted. They won’t answer my messages and I don’t know what to do?

    • Dylan @ Orchard 25 February, 2020   Reply →

      Hi Christopher, I’m really sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there’s much you can do… you may want to consider contacting your local authorities.

  • Judhea 24 February, 2020   Reply →

    Is it possible to unlock the network of a blacklisted iphone and just use it outside USA?

    • Dylan @ Orchard 25 February, 2020   Reply →

      Hi Judhea, I’m not sure if that’s possible but I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • DAVID 22 March, 2020   Reply →

    Hey I’m David, I bought a iPhone dont know if it was lost or stolen paid $100 for it could i get i get in trouble by buying it ???, (2nd). Question I called the person that it belongs too they are welling to pay me the money that I paid for it,could i still get in trouble ??? By buying the phone ???

    • Dylan @ Orchard 26 March, 2020   Reply →

      Hey David, thanks for your question. You can’t get in any legal trouble, but if the seller winds up reporting it as stolen, then the phone will no longer connect to wireless carriers so you should be very careful and only buy from someone that you trust.

      • Mark M. Davis 6 April, 2021   Reply →

        My IPhone 7S+ Plus GOLD Was Stolen from Sevierville, Tennessee – I would really Like to get my IPhone Back, Safe & Sound – I still have the Original IPhone Box with all the Information to prove that I Own the IPhone – I know It Is Blacklisted But I want to make sure whoever has my IPhone can never turn the Phone Back On – Is there any way you’ll can Trace where my IPHONE Is at or who has It – it has been Reported Stolen and a Police Report has been made. and the Person who Stole my IPhone Is on the Police Report.

        • Alex @ Orchard 15 June, 2021   Reply →

          Hi Mark, sorry to hear that your phone was stolen 🙁

          Unfortunately, the only way to track it’s location is using Find My iPhone — did you set that up on your phone?

          Also by the way I removed your address from your comment, as I would not recommend sharing that information publicly 🙂

  • MixMuh 25 March, 2020   Reply →

    hi guys :). I am looking for help for me and my girl. i am from France

    • Dylan @ Orchard 31 March, 2020   Reply →

      Hi there! Happy to help however we can. 🙂 The best way to get in touch with us is via email at support@getorchard.com or by phone at 1-800-736-2703. Thanks.

  • belleInave 29 March, 2020   Reply →

    Hi :). I am from Netherlands and i don’t know how can i disable my signature? Regards 🙂

    • Dylan @ Orchard 31 March, 2020   Reply →

      Hi there! Could you please clarify what signature you are referring to? 🙂

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