Author Topic: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?  (Read 2535 times)

Jazzpolice

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Does anyone have any tips on how to not fall into a bad deal buying a cell phone from craigslist?  I haven't bought too many things from there so I'm concerned how to know if the phone isn't stolen or can work with Ting?  I'm looking for an iPhone 4s so should I just see if a seller says "unlocked" or "works thru Sprint" (since that's Ting-friendly)?
Thanks for any helpful tips.  I saw a brand new 4s is $199 through amazon/Apple but it would be much nicer to pay half of that.

iamlindoro

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Re: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2015, 09:53:59 PM »
Most importantly, you're going to want to get the IMEI from the seller, letting them know that you need to check that the phone is unlocked and not blacklisted for any reason.  Call the carrier and check the status of the IMEI, then confirm when you take possession of the handset that the IMEI is the same as the one they give you.

http://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-avoid-buying-a-stolen-phone-1485785360
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Jazzpolice

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Re: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2015, 10:14:43 PM »
Thanks so much for the IMEI info…and the link

handsnhearts

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Re: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2015, 11:20:10 PM »
Buy it from Swappa instead. Safer. But the earlier advice still applies. But my DH has bought and sold a bunch of devices there and all have been great. There is some kind of vetting process there.

DrJD

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Re: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2015, 07:45:32 AM »
Buy it from Swappa instead. Safer. But the earlier advice still applies. But my DH has bought and sold a bunch of devices there and all have been great. There is some kind of vetting process there.

I've also had VERY good luck with Glyde.  Its nice because they have a one free return policy, so the one time I got an iPhone and the battery didn't work very well, I just returned it for free. 

Daley

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Re: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2015, 08:46:44 AM »
The Lifehacker bit looks more like clickbait for other articles than a solid piece on how to buy used phones without getting a lemon, but has good advice all the same on how to stay safe and keep from buying stolen. As they point out, the most important parts is checking the ESN or IMEI to see if it's on a lost or stolen database, and meeting them down at a corporate mobile phone store for the carrier brand the phone has been branded to (even if you don't want to activate with them and go an MVNO instead) to do the inspection and transaction.

As for avoiding lemons, I covered the whole process a couple years back. Things have changed a wee bit on the CDMA carrier end for activation with some MVNOs, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to overall usefulness. Here's the short and sweet relevant bit for you:

Quote
Is there anything I should check for?

If you’re going the Craigslist route, or want to ask the right questions of someone selling the device, here’s a short list of things to ask on:
  • What is the ESN/MEID (if CDMA) or IMEI (if GSM) of the phone? (already covered this, if they won’t disclose, it’s likely stolen/lost/under defaulted contract – make it a dealbreaker)
  • Can the phone charge/does it hold a charge?
  • Are any of the external connectors loose? (power/USB/headphone)
  • Do all the buttons work?
  • If it has a touch screen, are there any dead spots?
  • If it has an SD card slot, does it work?
  • Does the phone hang or crash? (if it needs restarting frequently, it’s likely a lemon)
  • Are there any scratches/cracks on the screen?
  • Does it have the battery cover, battery, and charger?
  • If it has hinges or sliders, are they loose? (if the moving parts are loose, it can indicate abuse or a hard life)
  • How hot does the phone get when you use it? (if it gets hot frequently and it’s not a model known to run hot, it could be suspect)
  • Has the phone’s memory been wiped and reset to factory default?
Clearly, not all of these questions can always be answered by the seller and is mostly a list targeted for private resale and not bulk dealers. That said, bulk resellers are also more likely to be honest about the condition of the phone in the first place. From that point, just be aware of what the phone’s actually worth and make sure you’re getting a good deal for the money spent. As far as private sellers go, typically if you’re buying a used handset where they’re selling the phone, the accessories and even the box it came in from the store, it’s probably going to be well cared for and in good condition.
Hi, I'm Daley, the Howard Cosell of MVNOs and the Technical Meshugana. I'm also the author of the Frugal Communications Guide and our own Superguide.

gotaholen1

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Re: How does one not get screwed from buying an iPhone on craigslist?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2015, 07:41:47 AM »
I also have used Swappa a few times, both as a buyer and seller.  Better than CL.