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Used phone scams: How to buy without getting ripped off!


Spring Break is almost here and people are looking to upgrade their tech for their vacation photos and communication. Here are a few quick tips about how to safely buy a used phone (without getting ripped off). With the Galaxy S10 hitting shelves this week, a flood of old Galaxy models will enter the used retail market – so it’s a great time to make sure people don’t fall for scams like these

  • A scammer steals a phone, then quickly sells it before the theft can be reported. Soon after, the phone is blocked
  • A scammer sells a phone, then reports it lost or stolen to claim an insurance replacement. The original phone is then blocked
  • A scammer sells a phone that is under contract but does not pay the contract off. The phone is blocked

Here’s how to avoid falling victim to these and similar scams:


1. Ask the buyer for the phone’s IMEI.Paste the number in a free blacklist checker, like the one offered by CTIA. This will tell you if the phone has been reported lost, stolen or otherwise blocked; however, it won’t protect you from every scam since the seller can report the phone lost or stolen after you buy it

2. Use payment protection. Insist on buying through a platform that offers buyer protections, or use a service like PayPal, which offers 180-day purchase protection

3. Ask the right questions. Ask the seller if the phone is paid off, if it has been jailbroken, if it still charges and if everything works. Honest sellers will be forthcoming; and though scammers won’t be, if you’re buying on eBay asking such questions can make it more likely disputes will be decided in your favor


4. Vet the seller. Research the seller: do they have positive reviews from past buyers? Do they have social media accounts you can investigate? Do they have references? Use your intuition: if a seller seems shady, pass. There are plenty of used phones out there

5. Inspect the phone. If you’re meeting in person, inspect it before money exchanges hands. Make sure it turns on, that you can make a call or text, and that you can connect to the Internet. If you’re buying online, inspect the phone immediately once you receive it. If something isn’t right, file a dispute with your payment processor right away


Flipsy.com doesn’t sell used phones, but we help people get more money when they’re ready to sell them by instantly comparing buyback offers from more than a dozen Trust Verified Stores. You can see how it works here: https://flipsy.com/sell/Samsung-Galaxy-S9-Plus?carrier=Verizon


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