How Can I Verify if an iPhone Is Stolen?

Written by robert kingsley
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How Can I Verify if an iPhone Is Stolen?
It is not uncommon for a thief to sell stolen merchandise online. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

There is nothing more exciting than getting an expensive iPhone at little or no cost. However, whether you're buying the device from eBay, Craigslist or a friend, you run the risk of accidentally committing a crime by receiving stolen merchandise. If you are unsure of the origins of your new iPhone, verify the serial number with your service provider before trying to purchase a service plan. To protect yourself, it would be wise to verify the serial number before purchasing the phone.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Get the serial number from the questionable iPhone. This can be done personally, or you can have the current owner of the phone do it for you. Tap "Settings" from the iPhone home screen. Tap "General" and tap "About." Scroll down to view the serial number where it is listed below the Model.

  2. 2

    Locate the customer service number for the phone's provider. The provider will likely be AT&T, through Verizon and Sprint carry the device as well. Visit the provider's website and click "Contact Us" for the phone number.

  3. 3

    Call the provider and ask the customer service agent to verify that the serial number for your phone has not been reported stolen. If it hasn't, the phone should be clean and you should have no issues activating it.

Tips and warnings

  • Some models of Verizon iPhones do not list the serial number in the About page of the phone. The serial number for these phones can be viewed in iTunes. Simply launch iTunes, connect the phone to your computer and click the phone from the iTunes device list. The serial number will be listed on the Summary page.
  • If the phone's seller is unwilling to give you the serial number, back out of the sale immediately. You will not be able to activate a stolen iPhone, and it could result in trouble for you.

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