Someone steals a phone off an unsuspecting (or at the very least unwilling) person, wipes the device and sells it off to the first person they can. That person thinks they got a sweet deal on a new phone... right up until the device turns on and is disabled by an IMEI block placed by the carrier or the manufacturer once the owner reports it stolen. No one wants this to happen to them, and the CTIA, an organization that represents the U.S. carriers, wants to help you find out if a phone is stolen before you buy it.

Does this phone look funny to you?

It's offering a free and very aptly named Stolen Phone Checker so people buying used smartphones can ensure the phones aren't shady. The site is easy to use and free for up to five checks per day for U.S. consumers. You type in the IMEI you're checking, click through a captcha, and get a quick and easy indicator that your phone is either safe or stolen. Now, there is one small problem here: this only tell you if an IMEI's already been blocked, so if the thief sells it to you before the victim hasn't reported their phone stolen and had the IMEI block placed

Bookmark it for the next time you buy a used smartphone. Tell your friends and family. Friends don't let friends buy stolen smartphones.

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