Orchard | Blog

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.


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!

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