How to Activate iPhone IMEI Blacklisted and Blocked
Many mobile phone repair stores offer phone buyback programs to their customers and end up buying back a phone that they’re unable to activate due to a bad IMEI phone number that’s been blacklisted by the carrier.
This can often happen when the initial check at the time of the buyback resulted in a clean IMEI number.
This can be very frustrating knowing that the value of a blacklisted IMEI phone is often significantly lower than non-blocked IMEI phones. Fortunately, you still have some options and, in most cases, you might not end up losing any money.
Of course, the best precaution to buying back a blacklisted IMEI phone is to check before you buy it. There are plenty of IMEI and ESN check websites on the internet that are free and instant.
You must be careful as some of them work better for certain carriers and while they’re pretty reliable, they can never be 100% correct.
- Identify Hybrid CDMA/GSM Phones. If the phone is unable to activate on a CDMA carrier such as Sprint or Verizon, the blacklisted IMEI could still have the ability to be used on a GSM network. Many of the phones manufactured lately come with a GSM standard, micro or nano SIM card slot and have GSM radios allowing for use on a GSM network. Likewise, many of them come factory unlocked, even if one of the major providers sold the phone.
Such an example is the iPhone 5 from Verizon. If you happen to have a bad ESN iPhone 5, you really don’t have a problem – it comes factory unlocked! You won’t be able to use it on Verizon again, but you should have no trouble using it on another GSM pre-paid carrier in the USA or Internationally.
In fact, a phone sold as unlocked has a 15-20% better value than if you sold it on Verizon. One of the first models of this type was the Blackberry Storm several years ago.
I remember customers wanting cash would offer extremely an low price knowing it had a blocked ESN number with Verizon – but not knowing that the phone came factory unlocked and was good for AT&T or T-Mobile. All that was needed was a setting change to deactivate the CDMA radio and activate its use on a GSM network.
Lastly, make sure that the bad IMEI phone that has a GSM SIM card slot actually has a radio and the correct cellular bands to allow service. Some phones, such as the original Nexus, had a micro SIM card slot, but the radio connected to it was only connected to the 4G network, not the GSM quad band network.
2. Customers Use of Free Carrier Unlock – Many times the customer might sell you the phone while they’re under contract and the phone hadn’t yet made it’s way to the blocked bad IMEI list.
You could ask the customer while there with you to call the carrier and request that their phone be unlocked. Each carrier is fairly lenient after six months of service when it comes to unlocking the device if the account is current and in good standing.
If the phone ended up becoming blacklisted after you bought it, you could at the very least already have it unlocked and it could be used on other pre-paid carriers or used internationally (and for free).
3. Pay for Unlock and Sell Internationally – If you don’t happen to luck out and have a hybrid GSM/CDMA phone, or you can’t take advantage of the carrier’s customer unlock policy, you’ve still got options.
You can still unlock the bad IMEI phone through many of the unlock providers out there without a guarantee that you could reuse it through the main domestic USA carriers. You can still unlock the phone if it’s on AT&T – just don’t expect to reuse it on their pre-paid partners’ networks.
Our retail store close to Miami had a lot of customers from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We would unlock these bad IMEI phones and keep them aside for customers that wanted to bring back unlocked phones to use in their home country. We would of course ask if they planned to use it in the USA before selling them the phone.
If these types of customers don’t walk into your retail store, Craigslist or eBay should find a savvy buyer who frequently travels back to an international country or has a business established to sell these blacklisted IMEI phones with no issues. Just make sure to post the phone accurately, making sure to disclose it has a bad IMEI or ESN, and offer no guarantees or returns for any activation issues.
Blacklisted and bad IMEI numbers can sometimes be a big headache. Knowing that you can unlock them with certain restrictions of use in the US still gives you many selling options domestically for international customers. It could even be an added revenue stream if you’ve previously stayed away from buying back such phones to make some extra money by not refusing the buy back blacklisted IMEI phones.
Paid ESN/IMEI Cleaning Services
There are companies who have back door access to clear your IMEI/ESN issues, for a price. You have two options. Pay a flat fee to one of these providers or you can pay to have your device swapped for a clean IMEI/ESN unit.
Not every time will these be successful but in the event that their not the seller will refund you in full and only takes a few hours or days at worst.
- Just because a phone is blacklisted, on a lost or stolen list, or has a blocked IMEI, this doesn’t mean that the phone was stolen or that it’s illegal to buy it back from someone.
- It is a crime to knowingly buy back stolen product. Ask your customer how they got the phone in a polite way if you find it on a blocked IMEI list before buying it back.
- Never buy back a known bad IMEI phone.
- Make sure to ask your unlock supplier if their service covers blocked IMEI devices. If so, make sure it’s covered for various originating carriers and if any additional charges or unlock commitment times are different.