Why is it important to check a second-hand mobile device?

Before you purchase a second-hand mobile device, you should use the CTIA Stolen Phone Checker, powered by the GSMA Device Check service, to see if the device has been reported lost or stolen. The rightful owner may have blocked the device from accessing wireless service provider networks or activated device protection features that prevent use of the device.

How do I know my second-hand mobile device was not lost and/or stolen then resold?

By using the CTIA Stolen Phone Checker, powered by the GSMA Device Check service. The CTIA Stolen Phone Checker is a public service designed to limit the resale of lost and stolen mobile devices in the United States. To protect themselves, consumers should acquire wireless devices from trusted, reputable sources.

How can I tell if a mobile device has been reported lost/stolen?

Use the CTIA Stolen Phone Checker to enter the device's unique ID—IMEI, MEID, or ESN. If the device has been reported as lost or stolen, a red status will state: "Reported Lost or Stolen" If the device has not been reported as lost or stolen, the status will be green.

What does "reported lost or stolen" mean?

It means:

  • the owner reported the device is no longer in his/her possession;
  • the wireless carrier confirmed the device was stolen due to fraud; and/or
  • the wireless carrier confirmed the owner is not in possession of the device.

What is "network blocking" or "cellular access blocking"?

When a wireless subscriber reports that the device has been lost or stolen, the wireless carrier can prevent that device from being used on its network. That’s generally called “network blocking” or “cellular access blocking”. Other wireless carriers participating in the CTIA Stolen Phone Checker and GSMA Device Check ecosystem may also block the device.

What is a mobile device IMEI, MEID, or ESN?

The IMEI, MEID, and ESN are device identifiers. Every cellular device has one of these unique identifiers unless it was tampered with or incorrectly manufactured.

  • IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is the 15-digit electronic serial number of a GSM technology cellular device.
  • MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) is the 14-digit electronic serial number of a CDMA technology cellular device.
  • ESN (Electronic Serial Number) is the 8- or 11-digit electronic serial numbers for CDMA technology cellular phones.

How do I see my device’s IMEI/MEID/ESN?

You can obtain your device’s IMEI/MEID/ESN by:

  • Dialling *#06# on the device’s keypad
  • Checking the device settings
  • Looking behind the back cover of the device or underneath the device’s battery
  • Examining the device packaging

What types of devices have an IMEI/MEID/ESN?

Devices that can connect to cellular networks to make phone calls or transfer data contain an IMEI, MEID, or ESN. That includes feature phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wireless dongles, among others.

Devices that rely only on Wi-Fi for connectivity – in other words, devices that cannot connect to cellular networks – do not have an IMEI, MEID, or ESN.

What does it mean if the device status is green?

It means that at the time the query was made, the device was not flagged on the Block List – a list, maintained by GSMA – of mobile devices reported lost or stolen.

What does it mean if the device status is red?

The device has been reported to a subscriber’s wireless carrier as “lost or stolen” and added to the GSMA Block List. The device has then been blocked by the subscriber’s wireless carrier and likely also blocked on other cellular networks.

What if the seller or other third party that is selling me the device tells me the device status reported by the Stolen Phone Checker is incorrect?

You should exercise extra caution since the device status information we receive is provided by wireless carriers and other organizations that own large quantities of devices.

What if the device description does not match the device?

The device description includes the make and model name of the device being queried. If the device description does not match the device, it may have been tampered with and/or may be a counterfeit.

How can I protect my device from being stolen?

To protect your device, use PINs, passwords and other features that can help protect mobile devices and personal information. There are also a number of apps that can locate, lock and/or erase your wireless device if it gets lost or stolen.

What should I do if my device is stolen?

If your device is lost or stolen, your personal information is at risk. Contact your wireless carrier and local law enforcement and follow these steps.