T-Mobile USA has Started IMEI Blocking Stolen iPhones and Other Devices

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A few months ago AT&T started blacklisting stolen iPhone’s IMEI, and now T-Mobile has started doing the same.

UPDATE: We can help track your stolen or missing iPhone, read here for more.

Good to know: We can now unlock T-Mobile USA iPhones. Learn more.


T-Mobile USA has started blocking missing or stolen phones from their network beginning November 11; just 3 months after AT&T started this initiative.

Editor's note: learn more by reading our ebook on starting your own iPhone repair & unlock business

This is done by blacklisting the phone’s IMEI. Technically this is not something new, as it is already being practiced in many European countries, Japan, Australia and some South American countries.

Related Article: Free IMEI Checker to Identify which Network Your iPhone is Locked to

When a phone’s IMEI is blacklisted, it won’t connect to the network. Meanwhile in Europe, some carriers there still allow data, but the phone won’t be able to send/receive calls or text messages. Normally you will see signal bars but no carrier name.

Below is the official memo sent to T-Mobile staff on blacklisting policies and procedures:

Beginning November 11, T-Mobile customers will be able to report their stolen device IMEIs and have them blocked for use on all participating GSM carrier networks. Blocking stolen device IMEIs will help to drive customer awareness and deter handset theft across carriers.

Action Steps

  • Be aware that T-Mobile will begin assisting customers with IMEI blocking of stolen devices starting 11/1.
  • All Retail channels will leverage the RSL to report and submit stolen device IMEI block requests.
  • Only submit IMEI block requests for stolen devices. All other IMEI block requests will be denied.
  • Continue to follow the current IMEI Blocking and Unblocking policy for all Unblock requests.

Additional Details

  • Only authorized users can request a stolen device IMEI block.
  • Only devices shown on a subscriber’s line in QuikView can be submitted for blocking.
  • Ensure that customers understand that once a device IMEI is blocked, it will not be able to be used until an unblock request is submitted before submitting a request.
  • Requests will be processed within 24 hours of being submitted.

The bad news is that if you’ve bought a used iPhone and you don’t know anything about its history, chances are that you won’t be able to use it on any US network anymore if the iPhone was reported stolen before. It’s highly recommended that you check the IMEI first before buying any used iPhone.

We’ve received countless emails from customers asking if there’s a way to unblock their phones because they bought them online (some were quite cheap) and found out they were not able to use them because they were blacklisted by their mobile service providers.

Related Article: 5 Tips on Buying Used iPhone Online on eBay or Craigslist to Avoid Scam

Usually only the original owner registered to the phone can request to unblock the phone. Other possible solutions would be swapping the logic board either with us or from another iPhone user from another country or replace the chips which are programmed with different IMEI.

Remember about a few months ago when all of us contacted AT&T to request for a free unlock? You submitted your iPhone’s IMEI to them and many got their requests rejected. That’s probably because of your iPhone’s “history”. By now, AT&T should already have records of what happened to stolen or missing iPhones – and who the new owners are.

Do you think your iPhone was reported missing or stolen before? We now offer an IMEI barred/blocked/blacklisted check. If you have an AT&T iPhone, you can now officially unlock it no matter what the status is (reported missing, has past due balances etc.) Verizon devices such as iPhone, iPad and even Android devices with bad IMEI/MEID/ESN can be cleaned or unblocked and hopefully we can extend this service for other carriers as well.

Comments & Discussion

  1. when checking the IMEI is clean, and then buyer pay money to the seller, after 2 days, seller report lost and claim a replacement. It is the same thing. buyer still purchase a blacklist iPhone.




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