How to Check IMEI number and Check ESN
When it comes to buying and selling used phones, it is important that you know what the phone has been through. This can mean anything from how many times it has been bought and sold, whether or not it has been reported as lost or stolen and whether or not it is still active on someone else’s account. The best, and easiest, way to check all of this information is to check the IMEI number and then go check the ESN.
What is an IMEI Number?
In order to check the ESN, you will need to first find your IMEI number. IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity, which is basically your phone’s Social Security number. It’s different than the serial number of your phone. Instead of being used to identify the device itself, it is used to identify the its activation status with the carrier it belongs to.
IMEI and ESN Blacklist
If a phone has been placed on the IMEI blacklist, it is because it has been reported as lost or stolen. It’s important to know if your phone, or the phone you’re thinking about purchasing, is on this blacklist. This is because the police could seize your phone and your mobile services provider could block your phone from its network, essentially rendering your phone useless. Luckily, the IMEI database is available online for anyone to check. So, before you shell out the cash, make sure your phone is good to go.
A phone on either of these blacklists will not be able to be activated on another customer’s carrier account, essentially rendering it useless. Let’s say the IMEI number you have looked up is on the blacklist. What do you do?
If you bought a smartphone that has been reported lost or stolen, you should reach out to your carrier to figure out the best way to return the phone to the rightful owner. If you acquired it from one of the more reputable online marketplaces, you could also seek to return it for a full refund. A reputable seller will have no hesitation on giving you your money back and finding the rightful owner. If you have not purchased the phone yet, do not do so.
What is an ESN?
ESN stands for Electronic Serial Number. It is basically another name for the IMEI number, but when checking if your device has a clean ESN, the IMEI number is what is used. Much like IMEI numbers, Carriers use phone ESNs to identify specific phones and blacklist those that have been stolen.
Check IMEI Number on Your Phone
There are three ways you can check IMEI number on your iPhone, including the Settings app, the Phone app and physically written on the phone itself.
- Tap the “Settings” icon on your iPhone’s screen
- Tap on “General”
- Tap on “About”
- Scroll down until you see the IMEI number
- Tap the “Phone” app on your iPhone’s screen
- Tap “Keypad”
- Dial “*#06#” and tap “Call”
- The IMEI number for your phone will appear on a grey background
Written on the Phone
Your IMEI number may be written on the back of your iPhone, either on the SIM card tray or On the back housing of the iPhone, depending on the model of your iPhone. It may also be written on the box that the phone came in, normally next to the barcode.
Don’t have an iPhone? You can also check the IMEI on your Samsung or other Android phone using the steps below, or check if it is physically written on your phone.
- Tap Settings
- Scroll to the bottom and tap About Phone.
- Write down your Samsung device’s Model Number
- Tap Status
- Tap IMEI information
- Write down your device’s IMEI with the Model Number
Written on the Phone
You can also find a Samsung smartphone’s IMEI on the rear back panel, if you left the factory sticker on. If not, the IMEI is also on the battery of your device.
Check ESN on Your Phone
Once you have your phone’s IMEI number, it is easy to check the ESN for free. The blacklist directory is fair game for anyone to check and look up any numbers. There are a few different places you can look for free, including Swappa and CheckESNFree.
If your phone is on the ESN or IMEI blacklist, make sure you take the necessary steps to return the phone to its original owner and alert the carrier. If you have not yet purchased the phone, you can also let the seller know that it is blacklisted to prevent any further issues.
In addition, if you reported your phone as lost or stolen to your carrier but you eventually found it or had it returned to you, make sure that you let your carrier know to take you off of the IMEI and ESN blacklist. Not only will this avoid any interruption to your service, but it will help you should you choose to sell it in the future.
If you are a used cell phone business that buys and sells used phones in large quantities regularly, it might be time consuming to check the individual IMEI and ESNs of every single phone that comes through your door. An easy way you can check them is through PhoneCheck, a diagnostics software that will not only check these numbers, but also 60+ other points of inspection in 2 minutes. PhoneCheck ensures to both the seller and buyer that the phone is in 100% working condition, and not part of the IMEI or ESN blacklists.