How To Check for Activation Lock Before Buying A Used iPhone


Are you thinking about buying a used iPhone in the near future ? Probably there is an important thing you must look after before taking any steps in the buying process, this thing is the activation lock.

Activation lock is a useful feature that has Find My iPhone enabled. This security feature prevents anyone from activating your phone without having access to your Apple ID or password in case they found or stole your device.

So what I want to highlight in this post is not to fall in this trap like many people, thieves who couldn’t activate the stolen Apple devices will consider putting it up for sale, and if you don’t know what to look for, you might very well be buying an iPhone that has been locked and cannot be activated.

So right now I am going to show you a simple tips for checking for the activation lock before buying a used iPhone/iPad or iPod Touch.

Take a look at the iPhone’s lock screen

If this device was stolen you should see a message on the lock screen warning you that this device was lost or stolen. If you see such a message, it should raise some flags, but don’t be alarmed quite yet, as the seller could have put the device in this state. You’ll be able to verify that in the next steps.

In case the device has a passcode, ask the seller to type in his passcode, then proceed to step 2.

Have the seller reset the device in front of you

If the device wasn’t stolen or else, the seller shouldn’t have any problem agreeing to perform a full restore to the device, ask him to go to Settings—>General—>Reset—> Erase all content and data.

If the seller uses Find My iPhone, he will have to enter his Apple ID password to confirm the erase.


Erasing data process will take a few minutes, so relax for awhile.

NOTE: If the seller doesn’t want to reset the device or is making excuses for it, then walk away.

Begin the device set up

After the ending of the erasing process, now you should see a white screen where you will be asked to choose the language, country, and a Wi-Fi network. At this point, you will be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. If that’s the case, then you’re safe to buy the device.

However if you see a message asking you to enter Apple’s ID & PW of the previous seller and saying that this device was stolen or lost (similar to the screenshot below), then you know something is wrong.

Ask the seller to enter his Apple ID and password. If he’s unable to get past this screen, then just walk away as this is a clear sign this device was either found or stolen.


Final Note:

Remember that a serious and honest seller should not have any problem going through the steps I’ve mentioned above.

If any point in time the seller looks or acts suspicious, of if he is making excuses for not wanting to perform some of the steps we just went over, then there clearly is something fishy going on.

If he told you that he can’t remember the password or the Apple ID, all what you have to do is walking away, because this device is 100% stolen.

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