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How to know if a phone is stolen before you buy it

We wouldn’t recommend buying a second hand smartphone from someone you don’t really know but it happens all the time thanks to the prices attached to new devices, especially the latest offerings from the guys at Apple. If you are buying a second hand phone, check whether it’s been listed as stolen before you part with your cash.

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How to check if the phone was reported lost or stolen

To check if the handset you’re buying has been reported as lost or stolen, you’ll need to find the device’s IMEI number. This is the International Mobile Equipment Identity number. It’s a string of 15 or 16 digits that is transmitted to the mobile phone carrier when the device is turned on. When a device is registered as lost or stolen, this is the number that’s used to register the device. The issue for you if you buy a phone that’s been registered as lost or stolen is that you won’t be able to link it to any network because the second it transmits it’s IMEI number, the service provider will recognise it and not allow access.

How to check this

You’ll need help to check the phone’s IMEI number. Thankfully there are loads of services that can come to your rescue. Check out checkmend.com in the first place as they’re a reputable company who offer their services from a little as £1.99.

Locating a phone

If you’re the party who has lost a phone, you can track it. The guys at Apple offer a service, and Android users can also track their phone when it’s switched on. You can do this very easily with an iPhone. Just log into iCloud and start “Find My iPhone”. You’ll only need your Apple ID and password to access this. When you’re logged in, choose the device that’s been lost or stolen and start the tracking process. With Android you can install a similar tracking app. That’s by far the quickest and most convenient way of doing this. You can track an Android device without a tracking app installed but it’s not as simple. If your smartphone has been connected to your Google account and it can access the web, you should be able to track it. You’ll need to have turned Android Device Manager on, but it’s set to on a default so that’s not normally an issue. If all that’s in place, read on.

Google Device Manager

This is Google’s official tracker tool for Android devices. To access it log onto your Google account. There’s nothing more to it as the Google account will automatically track the phone. If you’ve registered several Android devices with your Google account, use the dropdown box to select the right one.

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