Clean Bad ESN IMEI T-Mobile iPhone or Android due to Lost or Stolen

(Last Updated On: August 15, 2020)

If you have a blacklisted iPhone or Android, you can clean the bad ESN (IMEI) even if it’s reported lost, stolen or if it has unpaid bills.

Clean T-Mobile Bad ESN

One of the biggest risks of buying a used iPhone is that it may have been reported lost or stolen. This is possible especially if you didn’t check the status before buying the iPhone or Android phone such as Samsung.

In order for you to understand your options to fix, it’s crucial to understand the situation including all the different technical terms used. Only with a clear understanding it will allow you to be able to use your iPhone again.

We researched everything for you so that you don’t have to. Everything is compiled into the article below.

Information on ESN/IMEI Number

Most people have smartphones but not aware of the term ESN or IMEI. IMEI is an abbreviation for ‘’International Mobile Equipment Identity’’. It is normally consists of 14 to 16 digit number that is unique on every device that is ever produced from the factory.

ESN is short for Electronic Serial Number that is similar to IMEI. It is used more in USA than in any other countries worldwide. It is also used to identify a CDMA device that is popular in USA or Japan.

The importance to check IMEI number and ESN number

An IMEI or ESN is very much like a car plate number. Authorities or carriers use it to identify all registered devices used on the network. If the smartphone is stolen, it can be tracked using the IMEI or ESN. Each unique IMEI stores unique information such as the make, model and all other details.

On the even that an iPhone is stolen, carrier will use the IMEI to block it from the network. This is done by marking it as blocked, lost or stolen on the carrier database.

IMEI blacklisted fix T-Mobile

In order for you to get your IMEI number, on your iPhone just type *#06# and it will be shown automatically. You can also go to Settings, General, About and you can see the IMEI there.

The IMEI is stored in the iPhone’s hardware not on the SIM card. That means even if you swap your SIM card, the iPhone is still blocked on the network. The ESN used on the smartphone is useful because it can also prevent from any unauthorized use of your device in case of lost or stolen.

Helping your carrier to help you

Blacklisting the iPhone can also help carriers to locate it once it’s activated on network. Any possible illegal activities can also be detected which will help crime fighters.

When your iPhone is lost or stolen, you can notify both your carrier and local authorities such as the police. They will always ask for the IMEI or ESN so be sure to keep this number safe or stored somewhere for easy reference in the future. Once reported, the carrier will block it from the network.

Carrier will do cross check and able to identify the original owner too. This can help anyone who had lost their iPhone or Android device. It’s very important that you’re able to provide proof of ownership in case someone finds your missing iPhone. Be sure to keep all receipts safely.

What exactly is a bad ESN or bad IMEI?

A bad ESN was unheard prior to 2011. This is because a lost or stolen phone was never a serious issue before. However, it’s now common that people talk about bad ESN or bad IMEI. Authorities have also stepped up in reducing crimes due to thefts of smartphones.

An iPhone or Android device such as Samsung can have a bad ESN or IMEI number due to a number of things. It’s normally caused by owners who have unpaid bills or outstanding balance which were not paid. The owner simply cancels the account or stopped paying the carrier or lender. Another possible reason is if the service agreement is violated.

tmobile lte iphone

If someone buys a new iPhone that requires some sort of agreement, if the contract is terminated early there will be termination fee that needs to be paid. This can lead to the device to be blocked if that’s not paid.

It gets more serious if the device is reported lost or stolen. This can lead to a device being declared to having a bad ESN or bad IMEI too.

Consequences of blacklisted iPhone

The consequences are the device can no longer be used on its original network and ultimately on all network within the country. For example, once a device has bad ESN on T-Mobile due to lost or stolen, all other carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint will block it too.

This is intentional to prevent the phone from being used on any carrier. Some countries such as South America use the same database. For example, if the device has bad ESN in USA, it will also have a bad ESN in Brazil. Cross country blacklist is getting more common to prevent international black market syndicate.

What can you do with iPhone has a blacklisted IMEI or a bad ESN number

In case you were tricked to buy an iPhone with either a bad ESN Number or a blacklisted IMEI number, then don’t worry. There are several things that you can do to uncover the cost.

Many people are tricked or got scammed in buying an iPhone or Android phone such as Samsung Galaxy with bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI. This is not always preventable especially for first time buyers. There are ways for people to recuperate due to this.

Asking for refund

The simplest way is to request for a refund. Normally, it’s not hard if you bought it directly from a physical shop. Normally shops have refund policies and they must comply with this. Reputable online stores do have similar policies too so please do check so that you can get a refund or replacement phone.

It would be more challenging if the purchase is done on a street somewhere in town. These people sometimes have ill-intentions to sell it to you and then reported it lost or stolen for insurance claims. It may not be possible to get a refund or replacement in this case if the person can’t be contacted or avoided you.

Credit: Daily Voice

That’s why people are usually asked to do exchange at a public area where it’s monitored by CCTV as proof. If you happen to be at this place, perhaps check if you can the footage so that it can be reported to the authority. In this case, there’s nothing much you can do except turning the phone as an iPod or music player, play games or just for YouTube. You can also install Skype but it can’t be used on any network anymore.

Easy way to check if your iPhone IMEI or ESN is blacklisted

As described earlier, one of the first things you need to do is to get your device’s IMEI or ESN. There are several ways to get this.

If you still have the box, you can see it near the barcodes. Another way is from the device itself via the Settings, General, About. Scroll down and you can find the ESN or IMEI. The IMEI is also printed on the SIM card holder. Dialing *#06# on your iPhone will give you the number right away.

T-Mobile Blacklisted iPhone

In case you don’t have the phone with you, your carrier may have the information. Alternatively, by logging into your iCloud account, you should be able to retrieve it too. Your carrier will also have this information as your phone number is tied to the IMEI or ESN.

Check for other carriers

Carriers and other third party website provide free tools for you to verify the blacklist of your iPhone or Android device. By entering your IMEI into the query field, it will return instant results. T-Mobile provides a free checker here that will return result as lost, stolen, outstanding balance or blocked.

Alternatively, the Apple Store or your local carrier can help verify it too. Give them a call and provide the IMEI. Of course, they will have to verify that you’re the original owner before giving out the status. Once you get the status then follow the next steps in order to get your device fixed.

How to Clean T-Mobile iPhone with Bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI

The most superior way to get your iPhone fixed is to get it the ESN or IMEI cleaned. This means the device is removed from the blacklist. Although carriers will do this if the conditions are fulfilled, in most cases it may not be possible.

Some people don’t opt to clean the device due to the trouble of dealing with the carriers or service providers. This involves providing various proofs or documentation which may be too troublesome.

If cleaning it is not an option, one can opt to unlock it for use on another network. However, it was stated much earlier that if the blacklist is done on all carriers, unlocking it may not be a wise thing to do unless if the device is intended to be used somewhere outside the country.

Blacklist removal options

There are various sellers or online stores that provides the blacklist removal such as the blacklist removal or cleaning bad ESN service here. Simply by providing the 15-digit IMEI or ESN, the blacklist will be removed remotely. Most services are instant if premium service is chosen, or economy services will have the same effect but slightly longer.

No shipping is required or any hacking needed to get this done. It’s also safe but please choose sellers that have money back guarantee or support PayPal that can give your 100% peace of mind.

The services are not always cheap but it’s worth every cent as it allows your iPhone to be used again. For T-Mobile iPhone, it’s highly recommended that you get it unlocked once it has been unblocked or cleaned.

On T-Mobile’s database, a blocked device will show something like:


Cleaning the bad ESN remotely is also known as ‘unblacklist’, ‘clearing’ or ‘unbarring.’ These are common terms and acceptable for use in the industry. This doesn’t equate unlocking because although a device can be unlocked, it may still be blocked on the network.

If the device has unpaid bills or outstanding balance and got blocked, it can be cleared too. The same method is used and done remotely requiring only the IMEI or ESN. The service is available 24/7 so please refer to this service here (USA T-Mobile iPhone Unblock/Unbarring/Blacklist Removal).

Last possible options to fix your blacklisted iPhone or Android

Last but not least, there are some other possible options or alternatives for iPhone with bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI. These include;

Swapping the Logic Board

IMEI blacklisting is normally done in just one country although it may be possible for multiple countries to share the same database. An AT&T iPhone that’s blocked in USA can work normally in Singapore for as long as it’s unlocked.

Since the IMEI or ESN is stored on the phone’s chip, swapping the logic board with another one means it will have a different IMEI. You can do it with someone from another country for as long as you’re confident. Taking it apart needs special tools and beware not to break it.

Unlock and Sell

Getting your bad ESN iPhone to be unlocked is a good alternative because it’s usually in high demand by foreigners. This is due to the fact that the blacklist is only applicable in your country. Once brought to another country, it can be used there without any problem.

This is ideal for them and they are always in the look out for iPhone that’s already unlocked. The unlocking service is also done remotely and you can browse our online Store for unlocking service.

Dismantle and sell as spare parts

If you like to tinker or dismantle a device, this is also a possible option. Taking it apart can split the iPhone to several valuable parts such as the screen, logic board, docking connector, microphone, back casing and other parts. There are always people looking to get spare parts for their iPhone. Combined prices can fetch more than a few hundred dollars.


No one likes the experience to purchase a device that has bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI. However, with some knowledge and understanding of the technical terms used and why a device gets blacklisted or blocked, you can find ways on fixing your device and minimize your loss.

This article is applicable for any network not only limited to T-Mobile USA, we do provide a list of options to unlock or fix any bad ESN iPhone here.

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