In the conversation of second-hand smartphones, the words Blacklist and IMEI get thrown around a lot. So what is this cell phone blacklist anyway?
What is the Cell Phone Blacklist?
The blacklist is a shared database that lists smartphones that have been reported stolen in Canada. If a phone is listed on the blacklist, wireless carriers will not allow the phone to connect to the cellular network even if using a valid SIM card. Devices are listed by their unique IMEI Number. Many countries have a similar Blacklist, and these are shared on an international database administered by the GSMA. This means that a phone that is put on the Blacklist in Canada will not be able to connect in any of the other participating countries, and vice versa.
What is an IMEI?
IMEI stands for “International Mobile Equipment Identity.” It is a unique identifier that is hardcoded into all of the latest-generation smartphones. Because (unlike a SIM card) it cannot be easily removed and because it follows a common standard across carriers and countries it is used to identify stolen phones.
Why Was the Blacklist Implemented?
The Blacklist was implemented in 2013 to counteract cell phone theft. A phone that cannot be activated on any network, even if sold outside of the country, is not very valuable.
How can I check if a phone is on the blacklist?
To check if your phone is on the blacklist, you can enter your phone’s IMEI Number into our IMEI checker, here.
If my phone is blacklisted, what can I do with it?
A blacklisted phone will still work with WiFi, but will not not be able to make calls, send texts, or use mobile data.
Only the person who reported a phone stolen can have it removed from the blacklist. If you purchased your phone through a classified listing (like kijiji or craigslist) then your only option is to contact the seller and ask for a refund or to remove the phone from the blacklist (if they were the ones who put it on). If you purchased the phone via eBay, you may be able to make a claim for a refund.
At Orchard, we guarantee that any phone you buy from us will never be blacklisted. If a phone ever ends up on the blacklist, we will replace it (even if your warranty is up).
If a phone you found is on the cell phone blacklist, take it in to the original wireless carrier and they may be able to return the phone to it’s owner.