What Is a Blacklisted Phone? Meaning & What to Do with It

You are here:
  • Below you can find out what a blacklisted phone actually is, and how it impacts you.
  • Can you sell a blacklisted phone? Yes. Below, we list trusted stores that buy them!
  • See what you can do if you bought a device on a blacklist & how to deal with it step by step.

Nowadays, new phones are pricey, so buying one used can be the more economical choice. But how can you be sure a used phone isn’t blacklisted? Below, we’ll explain blacklisted phones, if you can sell them, and what to do if you’ve found or bought one.

What Exactly Is a Blacklisted iPhone?

A blacklisted iPhone is a phone reported lost or stolen by the prior or current owner. Another way a phone can be blacklisted is from an outstanding balance or unpaid contract bills. When there are outstanding or unpaid balances and bills, the phone carrier reports it as a blacklisted phone.

How much is my blacklisted phone worth?

Compare Blacklisted Resale Values Right Here

Who Decides Which Phones are Blacklisted?

While it seems Apple would have the autonomy to blacklist an iPhone, this isn’t the case. Apple doesn’t blacklist iPhones due to their policy of not handling stolen devices. It’s up to phone carriers, such as AT&T or Verizon, to report stolen or lost phones.

The iPhone’s IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity) allows phone carriers to identify the phone. If someone reports the iPhone as stolen, lost, or if it contains unpaid balances and bills, the phone carrier will label the IMEI number as blacklisted. Only the phone carriers can remove an IMEI number off the blacklist.

How Blacklisting Affects You

Blacklisted iPhones cannot access other phone carriers and therefore will not be activated until a phone carrier removes it from the list. Since blacklist reports are internationally monitored and traced, iPhones that are blacklisted cannot avoid foreign systems of trade.

Sometimes the carrier will not know right away if the phone is blacklisted. Therefore, a consumer could purchase a used, blacklisted phone without knowing it. With the correct knowledge of blacklisting and tools, the consumer can save time, money, and legal issues.

How to Check if Your Phone Is Blacklisted

  1. Find your IMEI number (Dial *#06#)
  2. Call your carrier with the number to verify
  3. Or check online: IMEI Pro (FREE) or IMEI 24 (FREE)

Find the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) or ESN (Electronic Serial number). You can find these numbers in your phone’s settings in the About section, on your battery, the phone box, or on the back of the phone.

Once you find the number, call your carrier to verify if it’s blacklisted. If you don’t want to spend time on the phone with your provider, check out IMEI Pro or IMEI 24, free online services that verify the device status.

If you choose not to verify your phone with either your carrier or an online diagnostic, you may find that your iPhone is blacklisted and won’t be able to activate your phone.

The bottom line is, when you buy a used phone you should always make sure and check if the phone is blacklisted with a bad IMEI ESN – or you’ll have a problem on your hands.

Can You Sell Blacklisted Phones?

You might be concerned about selling a blacklisted phone. Is it possible? Yes! You can sell a blacklisted phone through local pawn shops or repair shops, most of whom use these phones for parts. If you’re having a hard time finding someone to buy it from you, other online options, such as SellLocked, may buy your blacklisted phone.

Though your iPhone’s value won’t be the same as an unblocked phone, it’s still possible to make money. Also, there are ways to unblock your iPhone to raise its resale value. Some phone carriers offer to unblock phones for a fee. The cost to unblock an iPhone will vary on age, with older models being cheaper to unblock than the newest models.

#1 Rated Blacklisted Phone Buyer

Average Customer Rating:

5 out of 5 on Trustpilot

If any of these options don’t sound good to you, then a store rated 5/5 on Trustpilot called SellLocked will buy blacklisted phones off you – get a free quote today!

  • Reviews: #1 Rated with 800+ reviews
  • Payment: PayPal or Check
  • Shipping: FREE Shipping & FREE Returns

Compare Blacklisted Resale Values Right Here

What to Do if You Found a Blacklisted Phone

You bought an iPhone, called the carrier, and found it’s blacklisted. What should you do now? There are two ways to handle this, depending on how you bought the phone.

You bought the phone from a phone carrier.

The phone carrier will be responsible if you bought a refurbished or used phone from them. Once you tell them the issue, they should work with you to provide a refund or potentially get the phone off the blacklist.

You bought the phone from a private seller.

If you buy a blacklisted phone from a private seller, it might be a bit trickier. If you still know their contact information, contact them about the issue and ask for a refund, or if they can take the phone off the blacklist themselves by contacting the phone carrier for you. If they refuse, you could take this issue to a small claims court or report it to your local authorities.

Most of the time, if you’re the first person to report the blacklisted phone, you might get it taken off the blacklist. If you reach out to the original owner of the phone and they agree to remove it from the blacklist, it should be fairly easy unless they want their property returned.

If you found a blacklisted phone, it’s best to turn the phone over to its carrier or the original owner. If you purchased the device from a phone carrier, you could get a full refund depending on their policy. However, if it’s from an independent seller, you will not be guaranteed a full refund for your phone.

Tools You Can Use

CTIA - Accredited IMEI checker

Using this free IMEI checker will search the IMEI or ESN number for blacklisting if you purchase a refurbished or used iPhone. Remember to check the phone battery, box, or device setting for the IMEI or ESN number. Once located, go to the CTIA Accredited IMEI checker to verify your iPhone’s status.

Apple Activation Lock Status:

Using the Find My iPhone app, you can report if the device is lost and follow the app’s directions. For more information on how to verify the Activation Lock before buying, check out Apple’s Activation Lock tips. If your device is lost or stolen, AppleCare+ coverage will assist.

Phone Carriers:

If you’re using online resources and are still confused about your phone’s status, call your phone provider to ensure your iPhone isn’t on the blacklist. Phone carriers are the only ones who can reverse the blacklist status, not the previous owner or private seller. If your iPhone is on the blacklist, talk with your carrier about your options.

#1 Rated Blacklisted Phone Buyer

Average Customer Rating:

5 out of 5 on Trustpilot

If any of these options don’t sound good to you, then a store rated 5/5 on Trustpilot called SellLocked will buy locked phones off you – get a free quote today!

  • Reviews: #1 Rated with 800+ reviews
  • Payment: PayPal or Check
  • Shipping: FREE Shipping & FREE Returns

Origins of Blacklisting

In the early 2000s, the need for tracing stolen phones increased as mobile devices became popular. In 2004, the GSMA, an association for GSM phone services, established efforts to track stolen phones in Europe. In September 2013, Canada launched the CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Network) to aid its blacklisting efforts.

Later that year, in November, the United States joined the CTIA (Cellular Telephone Industries Association) after being associated with only a few operators. This allows international blacklisted phones to join the database of phones reported Lost or stolen. In the same year, Apple incorporated a passcode safety feature after erasing its iPhone information, part of iOS 7.