It’s now easier to check if that used smartphone you might buy is stolen

First of all, that used phone you’re thinking about buying – the one on Craigslist going for a ridiculously low price – is almost certainly stolen. You know that. We all know it.

Yet if you’re intent on buying a used phone – and don’t want to buy a hot one – the wireless industry has just given you a new tool that will allow you to be reasonably confident that the phone hasn’t been reported stolen lost.

From a CTIA press release:

CTIA, the U.S. wireless industry association, today announced the launch of a new tool to provide consumers with free one stop access to determine if a used or refurbished smartphone has been reported as stolen or lost.

The new website is designed to provide peace of mind to consumers who are increasingly buying used or refurbished smartphones. It will also benefit law enforcement by allowing police departments to quickly verify the status of a recovered phone.

The site is easy to use, as I entered the IMEI code from my iPhone and was immediately assured that the device has not been lost or stolen (a result I fully expected since it was purchased at an Apple Store, not out the back of a truck).

Smartphone theft has become a worldwide epidemic, of course, as the percentage of the human population carrying one continues to grow. While a few years old now, this story from Wired provides a useful primer about the scope and complexity of the problem. One point it makes is that there is no magic bullet when it comes to deterring smartphone theft; that a holistic approach is required.

The CTIA website should be a useful addition … at least for those buyers who honestly want nothing to do with stolen phones.

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