by Ricardo Gonzalez May 02, 2017 2 Comments


It isn't shocking, with a brand new iPhone Xs Max costing over $1,100,  to hear that people are reverting to purchasing older iPhone's from third party applications such as OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist, 5Mile, Facebook marketplace, and other similar applications.

These third party applications have made it extremely easy to buy, sell, or even give away used belongings. As a result a large number of individuals in the Unites States have used these applications to earn some extra cash. But of course these applications come with some risk especially when purchasing a used iPhone X.

Risks in purchasing a used iPhone:

    1. The person is purposely selling you a lost or stolen phone
    2. The phone hasn't been reset properly and as a result it has an iCloud Lock or Google Activation Lock *Hint don't assume the phone is ready to be used just because it's in factory reset page. 
    3. The cell phone has an issue that the seller is not disclosing. This could be a bad battery, trouble with service, bad camera, water damage etc. 

For this article we want to focus in helping people minimize that risk and provide a safe and secure way to purchase a used iPhone.

The following are focal points you should consider before you purchase a used iPhone from OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist, eBay, and the Facebook marketplace.     

1. Meet at a Public Area

Our suggestion is to not meet anyone that doesn't want to meet at public area. This is for the safety of both parties. Also, accessibility to WiFi is also needed to test the device. The following are suggestions for public locations:

  • Starbucks: has plenty of people around and they allow you access to the Starbucks WiFi. 
  • At a store owned by your iPhone provider: That way you can verify that it works for your provider and also if you need a new sim card
  •  Mall: A local mall may also offer you easy access to both your cell phone provider and WiFi

A red flags should automatically be raised if they are not willing to meet in a public area so proceed with caution. Of course try to read the individual. 

2. Check for iCloud Lock and Erase content on the iPhone

iCloud or Google Locked

DON'T! take ownership of any iPhone with a iCloud Activation Lock. iCloud lock is nearly impossible to remove unless you're the original owner or is present.

iCloud Activation Lock is the second most common way people get scammed when purchasing a phone on Craigslist, LetGo, Facebook Market Place, eBay,  and OfferUp. iCloud Activation Lock is a form of Factory Reset Protection (similar to Google Lock in Androids) that was established by Apple. This lock is activated when a iPhone or iPad is reset to factory settings and iCloud wasn't removed. 

Best way to avoid iCloud lock on an iPhone:

  • Don't hand over the money until you verify the cell phone is working properly
  • iCloud: Check if any iCloud is attached to the device. If so, hand back the phone and ask them to log out. DON'T accept a phone with an iCloud because you will NOT be able to remove it. 
    • From Startup menu: Insert your sim card and go through the steps until you get into the home menu
    • From Home Menu: Settings>
  • Ask the seller to completely erase the device by doing the following:
      • Then erase all content (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings) on Apple devices 
  • Next, put in your sim card and put in all your iCloud information. 

Extra Information:

  • If the owner isn't present to remove the iCloud then ask them to remove it from this link They can also remove it iCloud from their current iPhone under iCloud
  • Don't take ownership of the device until the iCloud is removed
  • This video shows you how to spot iCloud Activation Lock

3. Make sure the used iPhone isn't Stolen: Check the IMEI 

The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is unique serial number given to each cell phone device. It is used to identify if the device is stolen, lost, or blacklisted. This is one of the first things you should check if you're considering purchasing a used cell phone or tablet. 

Find the IMEI on your device:

    • Dial *#06#
    • iPhone Apple devices: Settings > General > About
    • On the back Side of the iPhone
    • On the SIM card tray

Easy way to check the IMEI. For Free!

*It's against the law to purchase any stolen/lost used iPhone therefore we highly recommend not purchasing any iPhone that is blacklisted. We knew a guy that went to jail for several months for purchasing stolen Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge's for parts only.    

4. Verify that the device will function with your cellphone provider

About two year ago I bought a brand new Blackberry Priv from a seller in Amazon. The Blackberry Priv came At&t factory unlocked (GSM) and I was super excited to bring into the Verizon network (CDMA). At that time my understanding of unlocked phones was that unlocked meant you can use it with any carrier without restrictions. To my disappointment it didn't work. All I can do is text and call. Not even changing the APN setting worked.

Do the following to tests to verify if the used cell phone is compatible for your cellphone provider:

  • Make a call to see if you can receive and make calls
  • Send a multimedia text (picture text message or group text)
  • Surf the web and watch a video
  • Change the APN settings if one or more of the top things don't work. Simple Google [[your cell phone provider]] APN Settings

    5. Be patient and compare online prices & check parts

    If the price if too good to be true, then it probably is. More often than not, a cell phone selling at a good price will mostly be stolen or have something wrong with it.

    Make sure you get the best deal possible. Compare online prices and use that towards your price negotiations.

    Make sure that that the device is working properly. Try out:

    • Selfie camera
    • Back camera
    • Loud speaker
    • Earpiece 
    • Earphone jack
    • WiFi and GPS
    • Volume Buttons
    • Home Button
    • Power Button
    • Vibrator 

     Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment down below if you have other recommendations. 

    -Ricardo Gonzalez

    Ricardo Gonzalez
    Ricardo Gonzalez


    2 Responses

    Invisible Armor
    Invisible Armor

    June 20, 2018

    Hi Anabel, to my current understanding an iPhone 5 from AT&T will not work for the Sprint network. iPhone started to be fully unlocked after the iPhone 6s.

    Anabel Ornelas
    Anabel Ornelas

    March 15, 2018

    Is it possible to have a phone unlocked on both gsm and cdma ? I have an iPhone 5 from at&t that I want to use with Sprint

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