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SCAM WARNING: The "clean ESN" myth and why you shouldn't buy a used phone.


  1. cti

    cti Member

    a phone with a clean ESN that has been activated on your account can still be rendered useless and placed on the blacklist if someone decides to report it stolen! CAVEAT EMPTOR!

    If you are buying a used phone, have the seller put it IN WRITING that the phone is legit, just calling Verizon to check on the ESN is not enough. If they arent willing, find someone who is.

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    itsalexaye likes this.
  2. phonealot

    phonealot Member

    I have bought used phones before with no problem. I followed the steps you outlined with a couple of added steps.
    1) I had the seller sign a receipt for the phone including the ESDN on it.
    2) I had adequate ID from the seller.

    Simply put if the seller tried this I would have recourse with Verizon (proof the phone was not stolen).
    I would have all I needed to prosecute. You do not need the police to prosecute. Any citizen can bring suit / charges against another.
  3. Highland Ranger

    Highland Ranger Well-Known Member

    Only way he could gain from claiming the phone was stolen was if he filed a claim with Asurion (company that handles claims for Verizon.)

    Verizon has nothing to do with it.

    If you have proof of purchase, cancelled check or whatever I would let him know you are contacting Asurion about his INSURANCE FRAUD.

    See if that gets a rise out of him.

    In fact if you dont return a phone or pieces thereof with your claim, I believe Asurion asks you to file a police report.

    I'm not a lawyer but it sounds like you can spread the love in more ways than one . . . . I'd let him know that your lawyer has advised you to contact both the police and the insurance company - Asurion.

    I'd do that whether I had proof or not (threaten) but not sure its worth the trouble to actually do it without proof.

    Not to rub it in but it sounds like if you do as the previous poster said (proof of identity, receipt etc.) you can safely buy a used phone.

    Good luck.
  4. I also have bought used phones before but i always activate it the minute i get it from the person usually i do it in person i never do it any other way unless i get it from like ebay where i am protected anyway if they do that to get my money back
  5. adostrom

    adostrom Well-Known Member

    Exactly! If you buy on EBay, and especially if you pay with PayPal, you're protected in full against this kind of fraud. I've both bought and sold several phones on EBay and all have been great transactions.
  6. JediSamReye

    JediSamReye Well-Known Member

    I have gotten maybe 9 phones off of craigslist, and i have yet to have a problem like that, i would saw of course it is a possibility but i dont think it happens enough to worry about it.
  7. boatman

    boatman Well-Known Member

    It happens frequently! As the posters above said, either buy off of craigslist in person, or ebay via paypal.
  8. ashykat

    ashykat Well-Known Member

    This is why I hate CDMA. Give me a damn SIM card any day and I don't have to worry about stuff like this.
  9. dbrookes

    dbrookes Active Member

    Right, cause on GSM, it doesn't matter if the phone you just bought is stolen. Pop in your SIM card and you're golden.
  10. ashykat

    ashykat Well-Known Member

    Exactly! :D

    My point is you have less to worry about as the buyer. Of course I don't want to buy a stolen phone which is why I would never buy from a "phone only, I lost the box" type of ad.
    load97 likes this.
  11. brain

    brain Member

    I've never had problems with used phones off craigslist either, but now I'm concerned.
    Is it possible for Verizon to deactivate your phone, even if when you bought it and activated on your account it was clean?
  12. no once you get it activated on your line they cannot deactivate it unless you tell them to. Now if you buy one and someone says it is lost or stolen while it is being sent then that would make the phone unable to be activated on your line.
    brain likes this.
  13. brain

    brain Member

    Thanks, that's a relief. I always activate on the spot using *228 option 3.
    I just saw an ad on craigslist where person was claiming that he got scammed by buying clean esn activating it but later on verizon told him its stolen and deactivated.
    I'm doubting the validity of that story.
  14. CheezyPoofs

    CheezyPoofs Member

    Glad I just found this thread. Yesterday my daughter had her purse swiped with her iphone in it. I'm planning on guiding her towards a used droid from craigslist, and she has Verizon service.
  15. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Well-Known Member

    This seems to be Verizon specific so I am moving this to the Verizon sub-forum.

    EDIT: I use Sprint, so not Verizon user, but on Sprint we have ESN, and as far as I know, as soon as you activate it on your account, you're golden. There should be no way for another person to report it as lost / stolen once it's activated to your line.
  16. boatman

    boatman Well-Known Member

    I did get a blackberry off of craigslist that was stolen. I got it in the mail, fortunately, the seller gave me money back.

    The real solution is to either get via paypal/ebay where they protect you, or meet the person wherever you feel comfortable, verizon store is a great place, but activate the phone on your line immediately before you hand over the money. Also, rather than do a full computer activation, I feel better actually calling verizon and getting them on the line.

    Finally, the LTE phones do have sim cards that have activation info, so in the future this issue might be lessened.
    WA_Bob likes this.
  17. WA_Bob

    WA_Bob VIP Member VIP Member

    Very true. If you pop you own Verizon LTE SIM card into a new-to-you LTE phone, it's automatically on your own phone number - even if you haven't put your Google account info on it yet.
  18. Knewz

    Knewz Well-Known Member

    Not necessarily true. If you put your sim in another device it will work, but the vzw system will not do an esn change automatically. Ex: If you have a Charge and the systems says Charge, but you put your sim in a Thunderbolt, you can use normal voice/data functions but the system will still say this sim is in a Charge. You will have to do a manual esn change (or have vzw do it) to ensure proper warranty/insurance benefits
  19. ame2entre

    ame2entre New Member

    I know this is a somewhat old thread, but just wanted to add my little story. I bought a DINC on CL this last summer. I met the guy (a young college student) and made the transaction. I got in my car and immediately tried to activate it through 228. I was put on hold and finally a CS person came on and told me it was reported stolen. The kid was long-gone by now. I tried calling the kid back, but it went straight to voicemail. After about 5 messages and a final threat to go to police, he returned my call. He apologized and offered to give me my money back. He said that he had lost the phone about 6 months previously and had reported it stolen. He then got a new one and had just found it, never re-activating it. We met up and he worked through Verizon for about 25 minutes to clear the phone. It checked out and I activated it on my account.

    Even though I was lucky, the lesson was to check it right then and there. No activation, no deal
  20. kyler13

    kyler13 Well-Known Member

    Ah, the good ol' days of hardware ESN. I wonder if stolen/lost LTE phones can be easily re-sold since you can just yank the SIM card. I know there's still some sort of hardware ID, but the question becomes whether or not Verizon can see it or block your access based on it since your service is now validated via SIM.
  21. IOWA

    IOWA Mr. Logic Pants Moderator

    To be fair, i dont keep any of my boxes. Lol. They end up getting destroyed or lost anyway.
  22. Bgarcia

    Bgarcia New Member

    If you want to check your ESN on any Phone this is the site to check
    CheckESNFree.com - The only instant, online
  23. rezeew

    rezeew Well-Known Member

    I sold my Dinc on ebay recently and was happy to provide the MEID to the buyer. Didn't realize you could check it on Verizon's website until he sent me the link

    Check Your Device
  24. TimSmooth

    TimSmooth Member

    I know this is a pretty old issue, but what if the esn is reported stolen 7 months later? Paypal only covers you for 45 days same with ebay. You buy to day and to scam you on the 46 day I report the ESN lost or stolen. You have a paperweight and I look like a good seller. Only reason I bring this up is because I had an incident occur where the sprint system said my phone was reported stolen. This happended accidentally on a night ESN activation was having problems, but it got me thinking what if the ebay seller really did this. Its been 4 months. Not much I can do about it via ebay or paypal.
  25. TimSmooth

    TimSmooth Member

    Im not necessarily sure this is true. I activate a lot of used phones. I kind of accessorize. I wonder even if I buy a used phone activate it and then 6 months down the line the original owner decides to say they lost the phone 6months ago. I end up with a 500 dollar paper w8. Considering all the scams that revolve around ebay I think this is a reasonable assumption.
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