What Is A Blacklisted Phone?Can You Still Buy/Sell It?

When most of us buy phones, we go through an agent or shop. After the usual sales talk and negotiation, the salesperson gets everything set up, and you walk away with your new phone. 

What is a blacklisted phone and is it possible to buy/sell it? It is a phone that’s been registered as lost or stolen. They are sold by unreliable vendors, so make sure you always check the IMEI number of the phone first to see if it is clean. You can also sell a blacklisted phone, but depending on the reasons why it is blacklisted you might face charges.

You start playing around with your phone and realize it doesn’t function the way that it’s supposed to. So you do a bit of checking up online and find out it’s a blacklisted phone. 

What Happens When A Phone is Blacklisted?

Every phone has an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) or ESN (Electronic Serial number). When a phone is lost or stolen, and its IMEI or ESN is reported, that number is then reported and blacklisted.

When a phone is blacklisted, authorities and phone carriers are notified. A blacklisted phone might be blocked by your carrier, meaning that it may not have the same functionality as a phone that is not blacklisted. 

You may also be contacted by authorities, who may decide to confiscate the device.

A blacklisted phone will likely not be able to use any cellular functions. This means that it won’t be able to make or receive calls or perform other related actions, such as sending or receiving text messages. 

It will operate like a phone that’s outside of cellular range. Any media files like music or video will still play on it, and you’ll be able to use it like a device that’s not connected to any networks. 

What Happens If I Put My SIM Card in a Blacklisted Phone?

This situation is unfortunately quite common, particularly with many users opting to purchase second-hand phones through unofficial channels. 

Depending on the reliability of the seller, you may not know that the phone was blacklisted until you’ve gone ahead and inserted your current SIM card into it.

In the event that you put your current SIM card in a blacklisted phone, nothing should happen to the SIM card itself. Remember that the blacklist refers to the phone’s IMEI or ESN, not the identity of the SIM card. 

The worst-case scenario might be that, although the SIM card is active and able to connect to the network, you may experience difficulty connecting the phone to the network. 

If the SIM card is compatible with the network to which the blacklisted phone was originally associated, it may activate the phone’s emergency features, such as iPhone’s “Find Your Phone.” 

While the phone itself will still be unusable, inserting the SIM card does not usually damage it or the memory itself. That said, you’ll want to remove the SIM card as soon as you realize it’s blacklisted.

Can You Sell A Blacklisted iPhone?

Although blacklisted phones, including iPhones, can not utilize cellular functions, the unit itself can still be sold. There are companies that will buy blacklisted iPhones since there’s quite a high demand for the parts that can come from a phone. 

You may want to approach local stores that buy used electronics or repair shops that could reuse the phone parts. There are also websites that specialize in purchasing blacklisted phones, for example, one called iBuyLocked.

Is It Illegal to Sell a Blocked Phone?

Strictly speaking, the act of selling a blocked phone may not be considered illegal on its own, it all comes down to the circumstances under which your phone got blacklisted. It’s not quite as simple as that, though, since a phone being blacklisted means that someone has reported it, which could happen for a few reasons.

You may have lost your phone, reported it, and found it again, but now it is blocked. 

You would have to contact the phone company to report it found, but you would be able to sell it. 

If your phone is blocked because you obtained it through illegitimate means, such as theft, you would be first dealing with charges over that crime, and secondly, the sale of stolen property.

Related Posts:

2 Quick & Easy Ways To Check If Your Phone Is Blacklisted

Fast-Action Guide: 6 Steps To Unlock A Blacklisted Phone

Hypothetically Speaking (Right?), What Would Happen If You Sold A Blacklisted Phone?

If you attempted to sell a blacklisted phone, expect to have to explain how you came to be in possession of that device. 

Staff at stores that you would be able to sell blacklisted phones at, including pawn shops and second-hand stores, are required to contact authorities when they come across products that may have been acquired illegally. 

You will be asked to prove that you are the rightful owner of the phone and will be expected to explain how it came to be blacklisted. 

This might require proof of purchase, like your original receipts, or any communication logs between you and the seller to prove that you’re simply the recipient of the blacklisted phone and not the person who might have stolen it.

What to Do If You Bought A Blacklisted Phone?

If you purchased the phone from a legitimate vendor, like a phone company or retail store, go back to the store and tell the staff that you discovered the phone was blacklisted. Then, with proof of purchase, you will hopefully be able to get a full refund or exchange. 

If you purchased the phone through less official channels, it might be a bit more challenging to be reimbursed for the device. However, you should notify authorities that you have a blacklisted phone, and they should be able to tell you what you need to do. 


The bottom line is that a blacklisted phone can still function as a digital device – it’ll still play music and can connect to WiFi if you have it. But if you’ve purchased the phone, you probably want to use it as a phone, and that’s where you’re going to run into a bit of trouble. 

Is it worth holding on to? Well, you are the judge. Between the inconvenience of not being able to use phone services and the potential of being linked to criminal activity, maybe it’s better to stick to shopping from real phone vendors. 

I’ve been working with technology in one way or the other all my life. After graduating from university, I worked as a sales consultant for Verizon for a few years. Now I am a technical support engineer by day and write articles on my own blog here in my spare time to help others if they have any issues with their devices.