How to Know If a Cell Phone is Disconnected

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You may have various reasons to want to know if a cell phone has been disconnected. Perhaps you are switching phones or carriers, and you want to make sure that you are not getting billed for two phones. Maybe you have just discovered an old phone that you forgot about and now would like to donate or recycle it. In any case, it is relatively easy to check to see whether the phone you are holding has been disconnected.


Step 1

Charge the phone completely. You will have a difficult time checking to see if it is disconnected if it has no power.

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Step 2

Turn the phone on and look at its number. Write that number down. Different models of phone have different ways to access that phone's own number, but most of them are fairly straightforward.


Step 3

Try to dial a number that you know works, such as a landline or another cell phone in your house. If you are successfully able to dial it, you know that the cell phone has not been disconnected.

Step 4

Call the cell phone service provider and ask whether service has been disconnected for the cell phone number that you wrote down in step 2. In some rare cases, a phone might not work, but an account may still be active with the cell phone provider. You want to make sure that you are not being billed erroneously.

Things You'll Need

  • Cell phone

  • Cell phone charger

  • Alternate phone

  • Pen or pencil

  • Paper


Most cell phones are marked with the names and logos of the providers through which they receive service. These phones are offered to contract customers at deep discounts that are then subsidized by the monthly fees a phone company charges to those customers. These phones are hardwired to only accept a specific provider’s network. Some unsubsidized phones are available that can be run on any network, and do not have any name or logo of a specific phone company on them, but these are relatively rare because they are so expensive.


Do not dial 911 as a test of your cell phone. In the U.S., all cell phones are required by law to be able to dial 911 in an emergency, even phones that have been disconnected. The ability to dial 911 is not a good indicator of whether a cell phone has been disconnected.