International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a unique identification number given to each smartphone manufactured in the world. The purpose of doing so is to allow cellular or GSM networks to identify the device with full details and provide services based on the device’s validity. It also acts as a tracking chip for the authorities and law enforcers when any criminal or illegal activity is linked to any smartphone.
In this article, I will answer some of the popular questions people ask regarding IMEI numbers and the blacklisting of IMEI numbers. Some myths will be busted, and some new information will be imparted in the process. So, let’s go!!
What does blacklist phone mean?
A phone Blacklist is a database of all the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers and Electronic Serial Numbers (ESN) that their original users have blocked via reporting. A blacklisted phone (IMEI/ESN) means that the particular phone was lost or stolen and reported by the user.
Another reason for blacklisting a phone is outstanding or unpaid contract bills. When the user fails to pay these bills intentionally or unintentionally, the Carrier has to take drastic steps to blacklist the IMEI number of that particular phone.
If you are in possession of a phone with a blacklisted IMEI or ESN number, your network provider company or Carrier may block their services. And this could go to the extent of local authorities seizing your phone altogether.
So, one should get the phone off the blacklist as soon as possible.
Can you unlock a blacklisted IMEI number?
While it is not easy to unlock a blacklisted IMEI number, it is possible with a little extra effort. First of all, you need to be sure that the phone you have is blacklisted. To check for blacklisted IMEI, you can use free blacklist checkers services available online. A couple of them that are popular and free are –
After you have confirmed that your phone’s IMEI number has been blacklisted, you can opt for either of the two approaches to remove the IMEI from the blacklist database or unlock it.
To free your IMEI number from the blacklisted database, you can get constant your Carrier. This is 100 percent free. All you need to do is contact your service provider and find out why your IMEI number or phone is blacklisted. You can call customer care at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon.
- If your carrier company has blacklisted the IMEI number of your phone by mistake, you can simply request to remove it from the list for free.
- If the reason for blacklisting is outstanding payments or unpaid bills, you need to settle the amount and then ask them to unlock your phone’s IMEI number from the blacklisted database. Once the device is unlocked, you can continue using it or sell it.
- Suppose the phone’s IMEI is blacklisted because its previous owner has reported it as a lost or stolen phone. In that case, the Carrier will be unable to delist it from the blacklisted database. Instead, you might get in trouble for possessing stolen property.
This method should be deployed if you purchase a second-hand phone and find out that the IMEI of that device is blacklisted. The first thing you should try is to return the device to the seller and get a refund. If that doesn’t work out, you can seek service from third parties that offer to unlock or delist IMEI numbers from the blacklisted database for money.
Generally, Third-party IMEI blacklist remover service providers offer the following services:
- They will remotely unlock blacklisted iPhone models using the IMEI number only.
- Some provide legal and permanent services so that you do not have to worry about your device being locked again in the future.
- Compatibility with all the available iPhone models and other brand phones
Here is a list of websites that offer services for removing blacklisted IMEI from the database –
- IMEI Authority (For Verizon and T-Mobile only)
- Express Unlocks
- Direct Unlocks
- iPhone IMEI (For iPhone Only)
Note: All of the websites listed above, along with dozens of service providers, will attempt to unlock your blacklisted phone for a certain fee. But, none of them guarantees to remove the IMEI from the blacklist database if you cannot prove that you own the phone. So, instead of paying them upfront, contact them first. You need to make sure that they can help you with your specific circumstance and your money won’t go to waste.
What happens if you use a blacklisted phone?
If you use a blacklisted phone, there might be some problems depending on the reason for blacklisting.
- If the phone’s IMEI is blocked or blacklisted by mistake, you can still use it on WiFi and contact your Carrier to unlock it for free. This won’t be an issue.
- If the reason for blacklisting is unpaid bills or outstanding payments, you will be able to use your phone for other functions that work with the WiFi network, but you won’t be able to use it for cellular services. You can pay the outstanding bill and get rid of the problem once and for all.
- If you have purchased a second-hand phone and discover that the device’s IMEI number is blacklisted, you should return it to the seller immediately as it might have been reported as stolen or lost. This can lead to a federal crime and might end badly for you.
Can you Unblacklist a phone?
Yes, you can unblacklist a phone. There are three ways for that –
- Contact your Carrier
- Clear any outstanding bills
- Seek help from third-party service providers (Contact them first before handing over your IMEI number)
How long does a phone stay blacklisted?
If the phone is stolen or lost and the user has reported it to block it, it will stay blacklisted unless the owner provides the correction information with the required proof to its Carrier.
If the reason for blocking or blacking the listing is failure to pay an outstanding bill, simply clearing all the unpaid amounts will unblock the phone within 3 to 5 days of payment.
Can you track a blacklisted phone?
Any blacklisted phone can be tracked whenever connected to a mobile network or when a sim card is inserted into it. It doesn’t matter if the sim card belongs to the original owner or some other user because the tracking is carried out based on the IMEI number of the device once it gets into the cellular grid or mobile network.
Can I block iPhones using IMEI?
You cannot block a lost or stolen iPhone using the IMEI all by yourself. You need to report the theft or loss incident to the Carrier or operator. They will enter the IMEI number of your iPhone into a blacklist database using their so-called Equipment Identity Register. This will make the phone unusable in the domestic network.
Can you still use a phone if it’s reported stolen?
If you have a phone that was reported stolen, then two situations arise –
- If you are the owner and you are the owner who reported it as stolen in the first place, you can inform your Carrier about the same with the required proof. Once they are convinced, they will remove your phone’s IMEI from the blacklist, and you will be able to use your phone freely.
- Suppose you are not the original owner and the phone has been reported stolen. In that case, this may cause unforeseen problems for you, and it will be wise to return the phone to the seller and get a refund or submit the phone to the local authority.
Why should you Block your IMEI Number?
Once your phone gets stolen or lost, it might fall into the wrong hands, and they might abuse it for criminal purposes and cybercrimes. Since the phone is registered in your name, you might be falsely accused of any misdeed taking place through your phone.
Thus, it is essential to block your IMEI number when your phone gets stolen or lost. This will document the incident in a legitimate database, and you will be free from any accusation or blame in the future. Further, with the blocked phone, the finder or the thief won’t use it to make calls or browse the internet using mobile data.
What Happens when IMEI Number is blocked?
When you provide an application to the Carrier requesting to block the IMEI number of a particular phone, the Carrier or the operator will initiate the process of blacklisting. They maintain a database or a digital list where they can enter the IMEI number, and the device is barred from using or accessing any of the services of the particular Carrier.
When the IMEI number gets blacklisted or blocked, the list is updated, and the information is relayed across the other carriers in the United States. So, if the finder or the thief tries to unlock the cellular services using some other phone, they won’t be able to do so unless the Carrier allows them.
If the phone or IMEI number gets blacklisted in the United States, the device cannot be used on networks inside the USA. However, if the phone is taken to a different country, such as the United Kingdom or France, then it will start working there on the cellular network because IMEI blacklisting is a national directory but not global. But, other countries are working towards building a global database for the blacklisted devices.
What to do if the Phone Gets Stolen?
Smartphones have become an integral part of our life. If your smartphone gets stolen or lost, you should not panic at all. Instead, you can follow the following steps to ensure that your data is safe.
- First and foremost, complain to the local authority or law enforcement department.
- Call your operator and proceed towards blocking your IMEI number so that it doesn’t get used for illegal and criminal purposes.
- You can also call your number and check if someone picks it up. You can try to negotiate to mention your phone has essential data in case they pick up your phone.
- Enable the “Lost Mode” if it was an iPhone and try tracking your iPhone. If there is no hope of finding it, you should go ahead and erase all of your data from the stolen or lost phone.
- If it is an Android device, you can use the “Find My Device” feature. You can also use “Secure Device,” which displays your personalized or custom message and contact information on the lock screen. If that doesn’t help you, you can go ahead and use “Erase Device” to wipe clean your device.
Can a Stolen Phone be reset?
Yes, different methods can be used to reset stolen phones. If it is an iPhone, the Activation Lock feature is enabled when you activate the “Lost Mode” for your iPhone. The person who is trying to reset it will have to enter the Apple account details to reset it.
If it is an Android device, the person trying to reset it has to enter the details of a previously used Google Account to reset the device and proceed further.
Can a Phone be tracked if turned off?
No, a phone cannot be tracked if it is turned off. When a device is turned off, it is disconnected from the cellular grid or nearby cell towers and GPS. This makes it impossible to track them down.
Why is the IMEI of my device blacklisted?
If you come into possession of the second-hand device and discover that the device is blacklisted or the IMEI is blocked, then there is a pretty strong chance that the phone has been reported stolen or lost. If you try to use your sim card on this blacklisted device, there is a strong possibility that your Carrier might suspend all cellular services for you.
If you are down on your luck, you might get into more trouble as the operator or the Carrier might report you to the local law enforcement authorities. So, be sure to check the genuineness of the IMEI number before purchasing a second-hand device.
IMEI Blocking cannot Protect your Lost Phone. Does it?
IMEI blocking doesn’t guarantee any protection against your lost phone. It attempts to prevent any illegal activities that the finder or the thief might commit in your name. Besides, different illegal hacks are available to unblock or delist a phone’s IMEI number from the blacklisted database. So, In short, IMEI blocking cannot protect your lost phone. It will simply protect you from further harm or problems.
How to bypass IMEI block?
If you have an iPhone with blacklisted IMEI, instead of trying to unblock it, you can try bypassing the block. This can be a good alternative when you are not the owner of the iPhone and you have purchased it second-hand. Another reason for trying to bypass IMEI block is- trying to unblock IMEI via third-party service providers might render you scammed without any success.
Two methods that can be used to bypass the IMEI blacklist or IMEI block are –
Using DNS Server
With this method, you can bypass the activation lock without an IMEI unblock and use some of the functions on the iPhone. This method proceeds by changing the activation path- that is – diverting the request path from the Apple Server to an iCloud DNS Server. This allows the device to be activated. This doesn’t work on newer iPhone models and the success rate is quite low. Try at your own risk.
STEPS for Using DNS Server
- Insert a sim card into your iPhone and select your language and country
- Go to the WiFi settings and then go to More WiFi Settings
- From there, go to Configure DNS and then to Manual
- In the Manual Section, tap on Add Server
- Enter the address of the server that matches your location
- USA – 22.214.171.124
- Europe – 126.96.36.199
- Asia – 188.8.131.52
- Rest of the World – 184.108.40.206
- Tap on Save >Back > Join this network
- Choose your network and enter the password. Finally, click on Join
Using Activation Bypass Tools like WooTechy iSalvor and others
WooTechy iSalvor is a dedicated professional tool that is designed to unlock a blacklisted iPhone’s IMEI by going around the blocked IMEI or bypassing the activation lock on an iPhone. It is capable of bypassing the activation lock on iPhone 5S to iPhone X that is running on iOS 12.3 to iOS 14.8.
This is different from other services where you have to pay in advance for unlocking the IMEI without any guarantee. With WooTechy iSalvor, you can get a free trial version of the software which will allow you to check how the system fares your blocked iPhone and whether the application supports your device or not.
Steps for using WooTechy iSalvor tool to bypass activation lock without IMEI
- Download the tool WooTechy iSalvor by clicking here. After the download is complete, install the software and launch it on your computer.
- Click on the “Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen” option to start the process and meanwhile connect your iPhone to the computer using a USB connector.
- The software will automatically start downloading a jailbreak package on your Mac. If you are using a Windows system, follow the on-screen tutorial provided to finish the complete process
- After the Jailbreaking is complete, click on the option “Start Bypass”. This will let the program start bypassing the activation lock. This takes only a while for the bypass process to complete.
- After the bypass process is over, you will receive a notification saying your iPhone is now unlocked. Meanwhile, your iOS device (iPhone) will reboot and you will be able to use it without any issues.
Features of iSalvor
- You don’t need Apple ID or password to bypass the iCloud activation lock screen
- You won’t have just some limited functionality working on your iPhone after the bypass. Instead, you will be able to use it completely with the most common features.
- You can disconnect the iPhone from its previous Apple and enable it with another Apple ID
- Compatible with a wide range of iPhones (from 5s to iPhone X, iOS 12.3 to iOS 14.8)
- Works with both Mac and Windows computers
- You get to try the software with a free trial version and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee available.