Skip to main content

Is that phone stolen? Check and see with the CTIA’s new tool, the Stolen Phone Checker

ctia stolen phone checker 40972745 ml
Scanrail / 123RF
You may never even think to steal a phone, but who’s to say that you wouldn’t purchase a stolen phone by accident? Here to help you ensure that you don’t break the law, inadvertently or not, is a new tool from the CTIA (the nonprofit representing the U.S. wireless communications industry) that lets you check if the phone you’re interested in purchasing came from an illegitimate source. Aptly named the Stolen Phone Checker, this tool quite simply allows users to look up if a device has been reported as lost or stolen.

The straightforward site is free and easy to use — simply input your device’s IMEI, MEID, or ESN. Each of these codes are unique to a mobile device, and every mobile device must have one of these ID umbers. Finding them might be a bit tricky, though. For example, if you have an iPhone, the number may be printed on the back or your device, but some other phones may require you to dig through the settings menu to find the code.

In any case, once you’ve located the specified string, just head over to the Stolen Phone Checker, input those digits, check the “I’m not a robot” CAPTCHA, and hit submit. You’ll then be told if your phone is safe to use, or has been reported stolen.

One caveat, however: if a stolen or lost phone’s original owner has not reported the device missing, the tool won’t know about it. That said, Stolen Phone Checker will still likely be useful the rest of the time.

So why is it so important to know whether or not your device comes from a legitimate source? Quite simply, if you try to activate a stolen phone, it just won’t work. In fact, American phone carriers have a collective database of stolen phone IDs, and if your device happens to match one of these numbers, it won’t be able to join a wireless service provider’s network. That means it’s key to check the authenticity of that phone on eBay before you buy it, and you can do that for free (up to five times a day) with Stolen Phone Checker.

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
iOS 18 has a hidden feature you’ll only see when your iPhone battery dies
Close-up view of remaining battery life on an iPhone 14 Pro Max.

It's been just a few days since Apple released the first developer preview of iOS 18. Since then, developers and everyday users have discovered features in the first iOS 18 beta that Apple didn't mention in its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2024) keynote. The most recent discovery concerns what happens when your iPhone's battery becomes exhausted.

Apple iPhones have a power reserve feature that conserves a small amount of battery life to support essential functions like Find My and NFC unlocking when the battery is nearly depleted. In iOS 18, the feature appears to be extended.

Read more
iOS 18’s new iMessage features make me wish everyone I know had an iPhone
Screenshots of new iMessage features in iOS 18.

Without fail, one thing always happens during the iOS segment at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC): I have a moment where I want more people I know to own an iPhone and use iMessage because it always looks a whole lot more fun than my usual message apps.

It’s not evidence of iMessage being generally superior, though; it’s about something else. And this was especially true at WWDC 2024.
There's something about iMessage

Read more
We can’t wait to see this bright orange mystery phone in real life
A teaser image of the CMF Phone 1

You probably know Nothing, the technology company formed by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, but did you also know it has its own sub-brand called CMF? Well, it’s time to start paying attention to it. After quietly releasing some earbuds, accessories, and a smartwatch, it’s about to step into that most crowded of fields, smartphones, with the CMF Phone 1.

Announced through the company’s official X (formerly Twitter) account, CMF by Nothing states that the phone will “leverage Nothing’s innovation and meticulous attention to design,” and “serve as a wonderful entry point to our entire product ecosystem.” It also says “others overlook this category,” which doesn’t sound quite right given the amount of smartphones there are to choose from, but it may also be reference to supposed “phone killer” devices like the Rabbit R1.

Read more