Are you planning to buy a used AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon iPhone? Here’s how to check for its status as it may have a bad ESN/MEID/IMEI.
If you’re residing in the US, you can always get cheap deals online on used mobile phones which sometimes may be too good to be true.
About two years ago, I wrote an article on 5 Tips on Buying Used iPhone Online on eBay or Craigslist to Avoid Scam. Although the article may be old by now, but it still applies for everyone because many people are constantly being cheated or scammed when buying a used iPhone or any device. I highlighted these mistakes on another blog post which I wrote a few months ago.
There are several third party checkers available online to check for a device’s status. If a device is still under contract with a carrier but the bill is not paid or has outstanding balances, chances are the carrier will blacklist the device which will make the ESN go bad.
ESN or the Electronic Serial Number is a device unique ID. Most people in the US would say a device has a ‘bad ESN’ if it has been blacklisted by a carrier. Other countries around the world refer ESN as IMEI or MEID.
Swappa.com is a free online device status checker. Most of the time the results are accurate. Verizon also provides a free checker on their website.
Initially, Swappa only returns a result if the device is blacklisted or otherwise. Recently, it also shows if it has unpaid balance or outstanding bills. This is extremely useful for potential buyers in the US.
Unfortunately, this free tool doesn’t provide accurate result for devices which are purchased or sold outside of USA.
How to Check if an iPhone has Unpaid Balance or Outstanding Bills
1. Open the link below using your favorite browser:
2. Enter your 15 digit IMEI/ESN and click Check ESN.
3. You will see a spinning wheel with a partially cut Android’s head as shown in the image above.
4. If the ESN is valid and the device has unpaid balance, it will show the result below:
Device is not eligible for resale (financed).
This device is being financed and has an outstanding balance that must be paid.
If the device is reported lost, stolen or missing it will return the result stating the device is not eligible for activation with a black background.
While this free tool is extremely useful for buyers who scout for used device, it won’t guarantee that a device won’t go bad after using it for a certain time frame as the seller can always report that the device is lost or has gone missing.
A good tip when buying a used device is to let the seller sign an agreement that he/she won’t do anything that might jeopardize your purchase and the status of your device.
Can an AT&T iPhone which was Reported Stolen or Missing be Unlocked?
5 Tips on Buying Used iPhone Online on eBay or Craigslist to Avoid Scam
T-Mobile USA has Started IMEI Blocking Stolen iPhones and Other Devices
AT&T to Begin Blocking/Blacklisting Stolen or Missing iPhone’s IMEI
6 Things You Can Do with an iPhone that Has Bad ESN or Blacklisted IMEI