How to check if a phone is stolen

Originally published at:

Should be “How to check if an American phone is stolen” - To save the rest of the world the click-through.


Ask Uber?

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Thank you for taking the hit for all the rest.

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so a guy asks for the #, I give it to him no problem because hey, I am a stand up guy, and then the guy adds the # to the stolen phone registry and accuses me of stealing it and threatens to go to law enforcement unless I give him the phone.


then the guy adds the # to the stolen phone registry

It doesn’t work like that.
If you had read the FAQ on their site you’d know that.

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I bet if you find out the phone is stolen you can really talk them down on the price!

I can’t be alone in thinking giving Imei to inverted strangers is somehow a bad idea.


Like that?


It’s not terrible as IMEI numbers aren’t really secret but it’s not good. As far as I know:

  • With someone’s IMEI number a sophisticated attacker can spoof your phone and run up your bill.
  • Many systems have personal information stored under IMEI numbers for support and sales people to be able to look things up and it’s not hard to get access to them.
  • Obviously anyone can report it stolen and get that phone blacklisted/added to these websites (but that seems unlikely given what other information they would likely need)
  • Oh, and you can log into someone’s WhatsApp with their IMEI number, I’m not aware of any other popular apps that use it as an identifier but I’m sure there are some.

It is not recommended that you publish your IMEI on the internet (people do it sometimes asking for help unlocking the phone) but to individual callers it seems pretty low risk all things considered as long as you remove that phone from your cell plan beforehand.

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