Top safety tips for buying cell phones locally in-person

Posted by Ken L on

If you are new to buying electronics such as cell phones, here are some great tips to protect yourself from dishonest sellers when buying locally in-person.

This article applies to tablets, laptops and other electronics as well.

1. MEET IN VERY PUBLIC PLACES

As the buyer with your money at risk, you choose what spot to meet. Both party can decide a meetup area but YOU, the buyer, should decide the actual spot. I recommend very public, well-lit places. 

1. Police station - the best spot. You can go inside the police station lobby. If seller refused, go to the next seller.

2. Phone store - go the store of your wireless provider. Here you can even ask the staff to check if the phone works with your sim card. They can verify if the IMEI is clean. Plus there are cameras everywhere. 

3. Banks - banks has very good surveillance and most have a security personnel as well. 

A cool website to locate safe meeting spots in your area, go here safetradespots.com

2. BRING A FRIEND

Having a friend or someone with you gives you a peace of mind. He/she can be your witness if something goes foul. Besides, the seller will think twice before trying to pull something funny.

3. NO NIGHT TIME OR CAR MEETS

OK! I won't lie. I'm a hypocrite on this one. I have met people inside their car buying or seller all the time and I even did many late night transactions, yes!  even pass 12am too! I know - I must be crazy.

BUT I strongly advised against doing so. It is a bad bad idea. Unless you are an experienced buyer/seller for over a decade. Then it can be an exception =)

4. MAKE A CALL AND CHECK IF IT HAS A CLEAN IMEI/ESN

You should ALWAYS test the device by inserting a sim card and make a phone call. Also check the IMEI/ESN on a reputable site, such as

checkesnfree.com
imeicheck.com/imei-check

5. ICLOUD / GOOGLE ACCOUNT HAS BEEN REMOVED

For Apple devices, make sure iCloud has been removed. Going to Settings to check is NOT enough. Instead, RESET the device and re-activate it by going thru the activation process. If NO iCloud account is requested, then it's clear. Same applies for Android smartphone. Go thru same process to make sure a Google account is not requested.

If the phone is on the activation screen - make sure you activate it before buying and do the testing.

Oftentimes, the seller does this intentionally hoping that you buy as is and later find out it has someone's iCloud account on it or the device is blacklisted by its original carrier

6. DEVICE WITH A DEAD BATTERY

NEVER buy a device that has a dead battery. Some sellers will intentionally bring a device that has a dead battery so you cannot test it, hoping that you trust them and later find out the phone is a brick or blacklisted.

Do not feel bad for the seller if you don't buy it. 

7. DO SOME BASIC TEST

Test the device's speakerphone is loud and clear, NOT muffled. The  Bluetooth turns on, microphone, headset jack, charge port, and all buttons etc.

8. IS THIS PHONE FAKE?

If you are new to cell phones, it might be hard to detect if the phone is fake, especially if it is a model you are not familiar with. The best option to spot fake it to have the phone verify at well-known phone store (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T) or a phone repair shop.

9. WELL DRESSED, SWEET TALKER

Yes, believe it or not, the dishonest seller will disguise as someone well dressed hoping you will not raise any alarms. They will sweet and fast talk you into the purchase.

10. NEW MODEL BUT CHEAP - BEWARE!

If the phone is newly released and it's 50% or a few hundred dollars less than the MSRG, beware! It is possible that phone is stolen OR seller is trying to pull an insurance scam (seller sells it, later reports it as LOST, then you'd be stuck with a stolen blacklisted phone).

Summary: 
Guys! Listen...you won't need any of these tip, just buy from me! 

But remember! When buying electronics, like the saying goes

"You Get What You Pay For"

and

"If It's Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is"

Use your common sense. 

If you have any questions, contact me


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