Use this IMEI check before buying a used smartphone in Canada

Here in the trenches of used iPhone sales in Canada (a.k.a. Orchard Headquarters), we talk to a lot of customers who have been burned when trying to buy a used phone without running an IMEI check first. The worst of these stories come from people who have, unbeknownst to them, purchased a used phone that has been reported lost or stolen.

Just imagine the ideally happy moment when you try to get a phone activated instead reveals that the purchased phone has been blacklisted. It’s not a phone anymore, it’s just an expensive paperweight.

If you’re considering a used phone and want the assurance of it not being blacklisted, Orchard provides a lifetime blacklist guarantee on all of our devices.

Avoiding the Stolen Phones

In 2013 alone, 417,870 phones were reported stolen or lost in Canada. Unless you’re an eccentric billionaire, you probably don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on a phone that can’t be used for much more than skipping across some calm body of water. Well, you’ll be happy to know that avoiding a stolen phone is totally do-able. And not in the way that climbing Mt. Everest is “do-able”… like we’re talking 5 minutes and very little effort.

See, proper procedure dictates that when a smartphone has been lost or stolen, its rightful owner should call their carrier and report it as such. The carrier will then add the phone’s IMEI number to the Device Blacklist Registry. Because a phone’s IMEI works as a fingerprint — a unique identifier that always stays with the phone — blacklisting the IMEI ensures that no carrier in Canada will activate that phone for service, thus rendering it useless.

Ask for the IMEI

When buying a used phone off of a stranger, the worry is that you’re purchasing a phone that has a blacklisted IMEI. The simple way to avoid this is to ask the seller for the IMEI number beforehand. This number is simple to retrieve – you can find it on the back of the iPhone, in Settings > General > About, or it will appear on your screen if you enter *#06# on your keypad.

Once you’re armed with the IMEI number, enter it into our handy IMEI Checker, and cross your fingers that this number comes up clean.


IMEI check

The Insurance Scam

While we’re on the topic of protecting yourself when buying used, we should note that running an IMEI check before hand won’t guard against the trickiest scam out there, which involves the seller reporting the phone as stolen after you have bought it. The motivation here is for sellers who have their smartphone covered by a device insurance plan, which they can collect on once they report the device as stolen.

Apart from buying your used phone from a trusted company (ahemOrchard), there is very little that can be done to avoid the insurance scam. Even so, using this IMEI check goes a long way as a first step to protecting yourself.


Have a stolen phone horror story you want to share or want to tell us your thoughts on the IMEI check? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments or get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, or through email. We read and respond to everything!

You may also like


  • moe 12 August, 2015   Reply →

    HI thank you so much very helpful . I have question here
    Is it ture if I buy it used phone and not on blackliste but after while the persone who sold the phone for me call the company and put the phone on blackliste?can you help me please .

    • Orchard 18 August, 2015   Reply →

      Hi Moe! No problem, we’d be happy to help answer any questions you might have.

      The short answer is that, yes, someone can blacklist a phone after you’ve purchased it from them. If this happens, it’s most likely an insurance scam where the owner will sell the phone to you and tell their insurance provider that it was stolen, then they claim the phone against their insurance plan and also keep the money you gave them. This isn’t that common but is a possibility when you’re buying a phone from a stranger.

      That being said, we guarantee that none of our buyers will end up with a blacklisted phone. If, for whatever reason, the phone you purchase from Orchard becomes blacklisted at any time, we will replace it. To date, we’ve never had any of our phones become blacklisted– there isn’t much incentive for our sellers to pull any funny business.

      Hope this clears things up for you! Happy to answer any other questions you might have. 🙂

  • Gary 6 March, 2016   Reply →

    If you ask the seller for the IMEI, how do you know they are giving you the true number for the phone in question. They could give you the IMEI number of a different phone.

    • Orchard 7 March, 2016   Reply →

      Hi Gary! That’s a great question. There a few ways you can make sure no one is pulling the bait and switch on you: first, you can run the phone’s details on a site like and it will show you the phone’s specs, so you can make sure they line up with the specs of the phone you’re looking to buy. Also, while you should run the IMEI through a blacklist check before buying, you should also make sure that the IMEI on the phone itself is the same as the IMEI that you ran through the checker. You can find the phone’s IMEI in the Settings app, under “General” and “About”.

  • brownjr 20 March, 2016   Reply →

    I think, seek with IMEI – the most reliable way. there are also a lot of any services where can see IMEI of lost / stolen phone. the same as running

Leave a comment