Is that used iPad actually stolen? Apple creates tool for would-be buyers to check

The tool will help prospective buyers of used iPhones and iPads to determine if the devices were lost or stolen

Apple online tool allows users to check the Activation Lock status of iOS devices

Apple online tool allows users to check the Activation Lock status of iOS devices

If you're looking to buy a used iPhone, iPad or iPod touch device, Apple is now offering an online tool to let you first check if it's been locked down by the previous owner, which could indicate that it was actually stolen or lost.

The service is available on the iCloud website and doesn't require authentication. It allows users to input the IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) or serial number of any iOS device to see its Activation Lock status.

Activation Lock is a feature first introduced in iOS 7 as part of the Find My iPhone service on iCloud. Once it is turned on, the device is locked down and the user needs to input the Apple ID and password associated with it in order to be able to use it again.

At least that's how it's supposed to work, but hackers figured out a way to bypass the locking mechanism by tricking locked devices into using an alternative iCloud server.

Apple's new online tool could help prospective buyers determine if the device was stolen or lost even if it was unlocked with unofficial tools, because the IMEI/Serial Number check is done against Apple's real Activation Lock database.

Activation Lock was optional in iOS 7, but Apple turned it on by default in iOS 8. Legislation passed in California this year requires all new phones sold in the state from July 2015 to have a kill-switch function.

Data from law enforcement agencies suggests that Activation Lock might have had a deterrent effect for phone theft. In San Francisco thefts of iPhones dropped by 38 percent in the first six months after iOS 7 and Activation Lock were launched in September 2013. In New York City the number of similar incidents dropped by 19 percent in the first five months of this year.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleapplicationstelecommunicationiossecurityphysical securitymobile securityMobile OSesmobile

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?