What’s the scariest part of having a cellphone? Probably worrying that your phone may get stolen. Having your phone stolen isn’t just about the hardware; most people would in fact not consider this as the most troublesome part of a stolen phone.
The personal data stored on your smartphone is going to worry you the most. This could include saved passwords and notes, travel itineraries, browsing history, call and message history, photographs, emails and so much more.
With almost every person having a smartphone, the chances of theft are even more. Would you believe that over 3.1 million smartphones got stolen in the US alone in 2013?
Wonder what happens with these stolen phones? If thieves are able to unlock your device with all your data intact, it’s like finding gold. Your data could be used for malicious gains or worse, to steal your identity. Even if your data doesn’t get into their hands, it is still all gains – your stolen phone ends up in cheaper markets such as Asia and Africa.
When you’re buying a new phone, there are chances that you’re being handed a stolen phone. The risk is especially high if you’re buying a used phone. For your own safety, it is important to check if the phone that you just purchased is a stolen phone or not.
How to check for a stolen phone
A phone is marked stolen only when the owner reports theft. This means at the time of buying, a phone may not have been reported as stolen and the owner may report when you’ve already purchased the phone. So it is important that you buy only from a reputed seller. This reduces the chances of being sold a stolen phone and also makes returns easier.
Second, be sure to search IMEI number or serial number of the phone on a stolen phone database. IMEI stands for International Mobile Station Equipment Identity; this is a unique number assigned to every phone. Most phone carriers usually maintain a stolen phone database; popular ones include ATT and AMTA.
Can the IMEI number be changed?
If the IMEI number can be used to check for stolen phones, the next question that comes to mind is – what if the IMEI number has been changed? IMEI numbers are hard-coded into the phone. Even though there are software’s that allow you to temporarily change your IMEI number, there’s no way to permanently change it – it’s written your phone’s circuit.
Consider certified phones
The option other than checking the IMEI number is to look for certified mobile devices. Purchasing a phone that has been certified from a vendor such as PhoneCheck can give you the confidence that the device you’re buying isn’t a stolen one.
Phone certification usually checks for the following:
- Stolen or lost phones
- Model and version of phone
- Working condition of hardware including, but not limited to camera, speaker, buttons, memory slot etc.
While you spend all the time to check for the phone that best suits your needs, also be sure to check that the phone is not a stolen one. Checking the IMEI number with a reputed database or service provider is what you need to start with. Additionally buying a certified phone can give you the peace of mind that you’re not being handed a stolen phone.