How to Unlock a Blacklisted Phone

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When it’s time to buy a new cellphone, you could suffer from a serious case of sticker shock.
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When it's time to buy a new cellphone, you could suffer from a serious case of sticker shock. That makes it tempting to buy one of the many used models advertised on sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace, but in doing so, you run the risk of buying a blacklisted phone. Although it's tough to find IMEI blacklist removal free of charge, you can contact the carrier and explain the situation to potentially get your new phone unlocked.


Unblock IMEI Number

A blacklisted phone has been blocked by various carriers from being activated or used. Blacklisted phones have usually been reported lost or stolen by the original owner, with the unique identifier then blocked from use. Typically consumers find themselves in this situation when they buy a cellphone from a questionable retailer or individual seller.

Blocking is done based on a number assigned to the phone itself. This number is known as the International Mobile Equipment Entity Number. You'll find it listed when you go to the menu settings on the phone, typically under the About menu.


If you're having trouble activating a newly-purchased phone, you can check your IMEI's status through various online services. Of course, the quickest way is just to contact the carrier that originally sold the phone. If your phone is on the blacklist, there are options for IMEI blacklist removal free, but you'll have to take some extra steps.

Unlocking Your Cellphone

Once you've learned you're holding a blacklisted phone, the best recourse is to get in touch with the person who sold it to you and demand a refund. You'll have better luck with this if you bought it from a retail shop, of course, as private sellers will probably go M.I.A. once the sale is complete. If this isn't an option, explain the situation to the carrier that originally sold the phone and find out if there's a way you can get the phone unlocked.


In many cases, though, your only option to unblock IMEI number is to go through a third-party service. Some of these services will promise the moon and disappoint, but sometimes this process will allow you to use it outside the U.S. You can also sell the phone to someone in another country, as a phone will only be blacklisted in its origin country.

Avoiding Blacklisted Phones

You can avoid all the disappointment that comes with trying to unblock IMEI numbers by taking some precautions at the point of sale. The safest way is to purchase directly through the carrier, but you don't have to be limited to paying full price as long as you're careful. You can enjoy the safety of buying through a retailer by instead opting for a reputable used cellphone retailer like Gazelle or Swappa.


Another option to keep you from having to check IMEI blacklist removal free in the future is to check the status of the IMEI before you buy. You can input an IMEI on to verify that it hasn't been reported lost or stolen. This site was created by CTIA, a trade organization that represents wireless carriers.