If you are buying a used smartphone, whether in person via Craigslist or Offerup or Letgo, or online via Ebhttps://www.novodasoftware.com/ay or Amazon, then it is crucially important that you do a check on the phone’s IMEI. The used smartphone market is notorious for being a haven for scammers and thieves, and it is far too easy to get burned by buying a stolen phone. In this article, I’ll explain to you how IMEIs work and how you can check the IMEI on a phone before you make a purchase.
What’s an IMEI?
IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity number. It’s an identification number for all mobile devices, which is assigned to the phone at the time of manufacture. IMEIs are also known as ESNs or MEIDs. Essentially the IMEI is the phone’s unique fingerprint; it’s what allows the cellular network to know which packets of data or voice information should go to which phone, and let’s the carrier know whether the device is an authorized user of the network.
Aside from its value in daily operations, IMEIs have become a very useful tool for law enforcement and for used phone buyers and sellers. When a phone is lost or stolen, the user and the carrier can mark that IMEI down in a database, so that anyone trying to add service to the phone later will find that the IMEI has been locked out. This has greatly reduced the prevalence of smartphone theft; a stolen smartphone very quickly becomes a brick, and of no use to a thief.
How to Find the IMEI Number
When you have a phone in your possession, finding the IMEI number is very simple.
On some phones, you can go to the dial pad, type in *#06# and press the Call button to get the IMEI number.
On Android phones, you can get the IMEI from the Settings->About Phone->Status menu.
On an iPhone, the IMEI is found under Settings->General->About.
If you haven’t got the phone in your possession (because it’s been lost or stolen, for example), then you can still find the IMEI. The IMEI is printed on the box your phone came in. You can also retrieve the IMEI from your monthly statement from your carrier.
On an Android phone, if your Google account is linked to the phone, you can find the IMEI via the Google Dashboard. Select the Android section, and all your registered phones will appear.
If all else fails, call your carrier’s customer support line; once you establish your identity with them, they can tell you the IMEI.
If you are buying a used phone, then the seller should be happy to let you check for this information on the phone before you make the purchase.
How to Check the IMEI Number
Checking an IMEI number is very simple. Just visit IMEI.info and enter the IMEI number you want to check. The website will check your IMEI number against the database and will tell you your phone’s carrier lock status and whether its been blacklisted as stolen. You can also check at the Stolen Phone Checker site, which also will tell you the make and model of the phone – useful if an online seller is trying to palm off a fake IMEI.
Looking for more information about IMEI numbers?
We have more in-depth walkthroughs on getting the IMEI number without the phone.
We have a guide to troubleshooting problems with IMEI number registration errors.
If you’re looking for iPhone and iPad specific info, we have a guide to getting the IMEI number for your iPhone or iPad.