How to Find Out If a Cell Phone Is Stolen

Written by j. johnson
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How to Find Out If a Cell Phone Is Stolen
Your cell phone can be easy to leave behind or be stolen. (cell phone image by Alexey Klementiev from

The small size of modern cell phones makes them an easy target for thieves. But not all victims of cell phone theft know or remember to call their cell phone carrier to report the phone stolen. Therefore, if you are considering purchasing a cell phone that has already been used, the safe bet is to make sure you're buying a clean phone. By doing this, you can avoid being taking advantage of or being involved in a possible crime.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Ask for information on a cell phone's previous owner before you purchase a used cell phone. This will be useful during the brief background check you should conduct.

  2. 2

    Remove the battery on any phone that you think may be stolen. Here, you will often find a sticker with an IMEI, ESN or serial number.

  3. 3

    Contact the cell phone provider, and provide the numbers on the phone to see if the phone can be linked back to an owner. If you were able to get the name of the previous owner from the seller, you will be able to see if it links up. Either way, ask the provider to contact the person that the cell phone is registered to, to see if the phone was stolen.

  4. 4

    Turn on the phone. See if there are any phone numbers listed next to titles such as "Home" or "Parents," to call to determine if the phone was stolen.

Tips and warnings

  • Contact your cell phone provider if you believe your cell phone might have been stolen. The provider will be able to tell if any calls have been made since you last used it, and if so, the provider can disconnect the service.

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