How to Check if an iPhone Is Stolen: A Step-by-Step Guide

Buying a used iPhone can be a great deal, but you don’t want to end up with a stolen phone. To check if an iPhone is stolen, you can use the IMEI or serial number to verify the phone’s status on various databases. This quick check can save you from potential legal issues and the frustration of buying a blacklisted device.

After completing the check, you’ll know if the iPhone has been reported stolen or lost. If it is, it’s best to avoid buying it. If it’s not, you can proceed with your purchase with peace of mind.


When looking for a deal on an iPhone, the used market is often the first place many of us turn to. However, we’ve all heard horror stories about people buying an iPhone, only to find out it was stolen. Not only is it illegal to possess stolen property, but you also risk losing your money and the phone if it’s been blacklisted.

That’s why it’s crucial to understand how to check if an iPhone is stolen before you hand over your hard-earned cash. It’s a step that’s often overlooked in the excitement of finding a good deal, but it’s essential for ensuring you’re not inadvertently buying a stolen device. This article is for anyone considering buying a used iPhone – whether from a friend, an online seller, or a second-hand store. We’ll guide you through the process of checking if the iPhone you’re eyeing has been reported stolen or not.

How to Check if an iPhone Is Stolen Tutorial

Before we dive into the steps, keep in mind that checking if an iPhone is stolen will help you avoid legal trouble and ensure you can use the phone without any restrictions.

Step 1: Find the IMEI or Serial Number

Look for the IMEI or serial number in the iPhone settings under “About.”

Finding the IMEI or serial number is the first step in determining whether the iPhone is stolen. The IMEI is a unique identifier for the phone that can be used to check its status. It’s found in the iPhone’s settings and can also sometimes be found on the back of the phone or in the SIM tray.

Step 2: Use an Online Stolen Phone Checker

Enter the IMEI or serial number on an online service like CheckMEND to see if the iPhone is reported as stolen.

Online databases like CheckMEND aggregate data from various sources to tell you if a phone has been reported lost or stolen. These services may charge a small fee, but they’re worth it for the peace of mind.

Step 3: Contact the Carrier

Reach out to the carrier to confirm if the iPhone is clean and not reported stolen.

For additional confirmation, you can contact the carrier associated with the phone. They can tell you if the iPhone has been blacklisted. This step is particularly important if the phone is locked to a specific carrier.


Avoid Legal IssuesHaving a stolen iPhone can land you in hot water with the law. Checking the phone’s status beforehand ensures you’re not unintentionally breaking the law.
Confirm UsabilityA stolen iPhone may be blacklisted, making it unusable. By checking, you verify that you’ll actually be able to use the phone on your network.
Peace of MindKnowing that the iPhone you’re buying is not stolen lets you enjoy your new device without any lingering doubts or worries.


Time-ConsumingThe process of checking if an iPhone is stolen can be time-consuming, especially if you need to contact the carrier.
Potential CostsSome online databases charge a fee for checking the status of a phone, which can add to the overall cost of buying the device.
Not FoolproofWhile these checks are reliable, they are not 100% foolproof. There’s always a small chance that a phone’s stolen status hasn’t been reported yet.

Additional Information

When it comes to buying a used iPhone, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While these steps can help you determine if an iPhone is stolen, there are other factors to consider as well. For example, even if an iPhone isn’t reported stolen, it could still be carrier locked, meaning it won’t work on your network.

Always ask the seller for the phone’s history and why they’re selling it. If they’re hesitant to share details or the deal seems too good to be true, that’s a red flag. Remember to meet in a public place if buying in person and use secure payment methods when buying online. Trust your instincts—if something feels off about the transaction, it’s okay to walk away.


  1. Find the IMEI or serial number in the iPhone settings.
  2. Use an online service like CheckMEND to check if the iPhone is reported stolen.
  3. Contact the carrier for additional confirmation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I check if an iPhone is stolen without the IMEI number?

No, you need the IMEI or serial number to check the phone’s status accurately.

What should I do if the iPhone is stolen?

If an iPhone is reported stolen, it’s best to avoid buying it as it could be blacklisted and unusable.

Is it safe to buy a used iPhone?

It can be safe to buy a used iPhone, provided you take the necessary steps to confirm it’s not stolen and it’s in good working condition.

Can a stolen iPhone be unlocked?

No, if an iPhone is reported stolen and blacklisted, it generally cannot be unlocked or used on any network.

How can I find the IMEI on a locked iPhone?

If an iPhone is locked and you can’t access the settings, check the back of the phone or the SIM tray for the IMEI number.


Buying a used iPhone can be a great way to save money, but it’s critical to check if the iPhone is stolen before making your purchase. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure you’re not buying a device that could be blacklisted or get you in trouble with the law.

Always remember that diligence upfront can save you a lot of headaches later on. So, take the time to do your homework, and you’ll be able to enjoy your new-to-you iPhone with complete peace of mind.