How to: Check if a used cell phone or tablet was stolen before buying it


Wireless trade body CTIA has created a free online tool to allow anyone to instantly check whether a wireless device is registered as lost or stolen. Consumers can check up to five devices per day, while law enforcement agencies get unlimited access.

The CTIA also provides guidance on protecting against theft, and what to do if your phone is lost or stolen. You can access the service at

To check a phone or tablet:

1) Locate the IMEI number of the device.

2) Check the device at by entering the IMEI.


The online tool will instantly check whether a device is stolen.