Last Updated: June 24th, 2014

Update 6/24: In a statement to Tmonews, T-Mobile has confirmed that it has a system in place that allows users (and UpgradeSwap) to check the IMEI to verify whether or not the device is being financed. You can find that tool here.

If a customer wants to purchase a T-Mobile phone and is checking the IMEI number, they should be using our tool for the correct information.

Update 2 6/24: In this ever-increasing back-and-forth battle, UpgradeSwap has now responded with a claim that T-Mo's own system doesn't even work correctly half the time. They even provided us with a screenshot of the system showing an invalid IMEI error on a T-Mobile Galaxy S4. When will the madness end?


Sites that buy used phones and turn them around for a profit are found all over the internet these days, because there's clearly money to be made in the mobile market. One such site, UpgradeSwap, however, is going to stop buying used T-Mobile phones. There are some pretty questionable decisions being made by T-Mo, so anyone interested in picking up a used Magenta handset should also be aware of what's going on.

Here's how it all works: when a site like UpgradeSwap buys a phone, they check the IMEI with the carrier to make sure it's not listed as lost or stolen and is good to be sold. Usually, that's the end of the story. With T-Mobile, however, there's an issue because of the company's JUMP plan: people are selling phones that are still being financed, then not paying for them after that. Since the payment plan is registered to the phone itself, T-Mobile essentially blacklists the device, leaving the unsuspecting owner of the purchased phone without the ability to use the handset they paid for. All because there are folks in this world who want to play dirty and try to "screw the system."

According to UpgradeSwap's blog post on the matter, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all have systems in place to keep this from happening on their respective networks. Thus, UpgradeSwap will continue to purchase those devices (and it's probably OK for you to do the same, as long as you check the IMEI beforehand).

If you're considering picking up a used T-Mobile phone at this point, you may want to reconsider that move. Hopefully T-Mo will fix its seemingly broken system to prevent this sort of fraudulent behavior in the future.

Update: It looks like Swappa's free IMEI checker lets users see if a T-Mobile phone is being financed or not. I'm not sure what's going on with UpgradeSwap's system, but they may want to look into what Swappa's using. It looks like Swappa's system can be somewhat unreliable, at least according to the comments on this post. I'm not sure I'd even trust it at this point.



Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • ReklessSVT

    Swappa's IMEI check will show if a tmobile phone hasn't been paid off.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Interesting. According to what UpgradeSwap is saying, that's not possible.

      • Chris

        I'll post my reply to him to you too.

        But the problem is, and as a huge tmo fan this sucks, the person can sell the phone while the IMEI is still good, and then stop making payments once they've got their money.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Exactly. If US could tell that it's still being financed, they wouldn't buy it in the first place. What they're saying is that there's no way to find that information.

          • ReklessSVT

            Whatever swappa uses to check does tell you it's financed, that's what I'm saying. The phone I checked is paid off now or I'd screenshot it for you

          • enoch861

            It's true. Swappa does tell you if the device if financed or not. So I'm not sure what UpgradeSwap is talking about.

          • Alberto

            can they just call tmo to see if it being financed?

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

            Their post says that T-Mo can't tell them that info.


      • abqnm

        Yeah US needs to get access to whatever Swappa uses. I just put in my imei and it does indeed tell me that it is not eligible because it is financed.

        So for those in the Craigslist market, use Swappa's free imei checker as it does have access to this financing information. http://swappa.com/esn

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Added this in to the post. No clue what UpgradeSwap is talking about.

          • abqnm

            Yeah it seems they just need to find the right people to contact to get access to the correct information. I also posted this as a comment to their blog post, so we shall see. That is a pretty harsh post for something that isn't totally true.

          • abqnm

            Would you consider revising the title, maybe? Maybe drop the "and you probably should too" part or revise it to "and you should probably do your research before you buy" or similar. Since their blog post was proven inaccurate, it seems unfair to shame T-Mobile here (and potentially have a big influence over the used phone market) when clearly they can provide the information needed somehow.

            Your post, obviously, but I was just thinking about it. Cheers.

    • Chris

      But the problem is, and as a huge tmo fan this sucks, the person can sell the phone while the IMEI is still good, and then stop making payments once they've got their money.

      • matukas

        This is true.

        I just had a Note 3 and M8 that I bought on swappa get blacklisted on me.

        Thankfully they're working with me to get my money back and I'm waiting for PayPal to go through my claims.

        • ReklessSVT

          Strange, I had to cancel a swappa listing because I tried to sell a phone for a friend that was still being financed.

          • matukas

            To be honest, I don't recall if I used the IMEI checker before I bought it. Swappa just checks to make sure its valid before they approve the listing, thats all.

            I bought the Note in March and the M8 in April and they just both got blacklisted around the end of May, so give or take a month.

            Heres what it says now:

            I just didn't find out until now because I had my sim in another device, and when I tried to switch, it just wouldn't connect.

          • Detonation

            Swappa requires the seller to enter a valid IMEI. Though that doesn't prevent them from entering a different one, or waiting until after its sold to make a claim on it.

          • ReklessSVT

            You are right, but the point is that the IMEI of a financed phone shows its being financed

          • matukas

            This is true.

            I'm just more or less saying, its still easy to get ripped off on Swappa, seeing as I just did, with 2 phones in the same week.

            Hopefully PayPal sides with me and I get reimbursed for the m8. The Note 3, the seller had to me apparently had no idea and had originally bought it off ebay before moving it on to me. He's going to let me send the phone back and refund me, and he is going to go after the person who sold to him.

            Needless to say, I'm not going to be buying used phones in the future. I've done it relatively regularly for say the past 5 years, and this is the first time I've ever had the issue.

            But its the first and the last.

          • Ibrahim Awwal

            Huh. Similar thing happened to me, the guy I bought my Note 3 from (which just stopped working 2 days ago, and is apparently now blacklisted) said he had swapped it for another phone. This guy has sold 19 devices on Swappa and bought 13 and has good ratings so I assumed he was trustworthy, but I wonder if it could be the same guy...

          • KojiroAK

            Well, some use on eBay tactics like, first they sell common goods on eBay at price or with a little marging.
            Once they have a good rating, they start to sell problematic goods (like defects or stolen), because they have good ratings most believe it to be a slip and once they figured out, it was all part of the plot, the person in question has allready left.

          • Ibrahim Awwal

            Yeah, that might be it. One thing I realized now is that the guy said he had swapped his G2 for a Note 3 but then decided he didn't like the size, but I just checked his history and he had sold a Note 3 a few months prior to the one I bought. Seems odd...

          • matukas

            The person who I bought the Note from had originally bought it on eBay. He's going to refund me for the device.

            The person I bought the m8 from had sold 305 listings on Swappa. He's not made any contact with me since the device was blacklisted nor has he responded to PayPal.

          • Barnassey

            Do you know the the account that did this? I got dinged by a seller on swappa who did the same thing.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          IMEI should be shown as "Financed" until it's "Paid"

        • Dhaiwat

          Wow! I would be furious. Hope it works out!

        • Ibrahim Awwal

          WOW, the exact same thing happened to me. My Note 3 stopped working 2 days ago, and I had bought it on Swappa. Now I checked the IMEI and it says it's been blacklisted. Really glad this article came up, at least now I know why it happened and that I don't need to try to figure out how to do a warranty claim or something. Hopefully they can help me out as well.

          • Techngro

            Neither T-Mobile, Swappa or Paypal will be of any help to you, I'm very sorry to say. I had the exact same thing happen to me. Swappa's response was basically there's nothing they can do. Paypal wouldn't even let me open a dispute. And T-Mobile wouldn't tell me anything about anything because I was not the original account holder.

            A lot of people (like myself) are learning a very valuable lesson. It's just not worth it anymore to take the risk on buying a used phone, especially from T-Mobile.

          • matukas

            Just because that was your experience doesn't make it universal.

            I have two claims open with PayPal right now.

            This is on Swappa's 'risks' page:

            "Swappa cannot guarantee the devices sold by sellers are as described. However, if a seller sells a device with a bad ESN, cracked screen, water damage, or other undescribed problem then they've violated Swappa's terms of service and sold an item fraudulently. You, the buyer, now have recourse, via PayPal's buyer protection plan, to get your money back."

          • Techngro

            Yeah, I tried Paypal's 'buyer protection'. They wouldn't even let me open a dispute. They have a 45 day window for disputes. That's great for a scammer considering it usually takes a couple of billing cycles of non-payment to be blocked, so they'll be well past the 45 day allowance.

            This is my problem with Paypal and Swappa. For cases of fraud, there should not be a 45 day window. It's one thing if the device were to stop working after 60 days, because that cannot be traced directly back to the seller. It may just be a defective device. But a device that has been blocked for non-payment CAN be directly traced back to the seller's malfeasance and therefore a claim in those instances should not be limited to 45 days. Fraud is fraud.

          • Burrdoh

            This is true. Your original comment was a little vague, so I thought you were saying PayPal just "wouldn't let you" but in reality, the 45 days had already passed.

            Yes its a dumb rule, but as far as buying used devices from someone, its about as safe as we can get right now.

            Its a hell of a lot safer than just handing someone $600 in front of a Starbucks or something.

            Hope it doesn't happen to you, me or anyone anymore!

          • Techngro

            Oh trust me, it won't be happening to me ever again. From now on, I will purchase my devices direct from T-Mobile. It will be more expensive, but the money I saved this time was not worth having to unlock the device and switch carriers, which is what I ended up having to do.

          • Ibrahim Awwal

            Yeah, that's basically what Swappa told me now. I guess it's worth seeing if my credit card will do anything but I'm pretty much at the mercy of the guy who I bought it from. it's tricky because he might or might not have been the original owner if he was telling me the truth so if I try to dispute it I might screw over another innocent person.

          • Techngro

            No, you should definitely dispute it if you're within the 45 day window. The guy sold you a phone that you can't use. He has your money and you have limited options. And make sure you leave negative feedback on his Swappa page (or change your feedback) to let other buyers know that that seller is not to be trusted.

          • Ibrahim Awwal

            Trouble is it's been three months, so I'm out of that window. I guess first I can try talking to the seller and take other actions if he won't help.

          • Techngro

            Dude, don't wait. Call up your credit card and see if they will reverse the charges. Have Swappa send them a letter saying that the device was fraudulently sold as proof. The longer you wait the more options may be closed to you.

    • Donatom3

      Didn't work on 3 of the phones from my account. I pulled the IMEI's right from the billing section of the website. Neither did Tmobile's verify site though.

    • Techngro

      No it doesn't. Swappa's system does not show whether the phone is on a payment plan or has been paid off. It just shows whether the phone is currently ready for activation. Those are NOT the same things.

  • none

    It sounds like this is a good thing, removing the incentive for criminals to finance and then sell unpaid-for phones. Am I missing something? Why is this tmos fault, (presuming that when they are paid off the imei is unblacklisted..?)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Your comment makes no sense. People sell the phone and stop paying for it. Someone buy said phone, and it gets blacklisted. The phone should've never been sold in the first place - it's the buyer who's getting screwed here, not the seller.

    • modplan

      Because the other big 3 do not "kill" the device if it is not paid off, they simply go after the account holder for the balance. TMo is marking these devices as stolen until they are paid off, while the other companies do not. If you buy a phone on craigslist (or somewhere) for Sprint (or VZW or ATT) and that person did not pay it off, you are not at fault, the account holder just gets sent to collections and you can still use the device. If you do the same on TMo the phone is worthless and you are screwed and you had no idea or any way to check.

  • cguella

    You can't blame T-Mobile for this.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Why? It's an oversight in their system.

      • Aooga

        How? Swappa can check using the IMEI if it's financed or not.

        • Simon Belmont

          It can. But, apparently, it's not a 100% reliable check (even Swappa says that in a disclaimer).

          I want to know, without a doubt, if the phone I'm interested in buying is financed or not. If it is, I'd probably just pass on it to avoid the scenario outlined in the article.

          • Aooga

            Nothing is 100% reliable.

          • Simon Belmont

            Come on. That's sort of a cop out response.

            What I meant was that Swappa's (and T-Mobile's) system is hit or miss at best at telling you if a phone is being financed or not. These phones are in T-Mobile's system records and they have the data to tell us if they're being financed or not. It seems to me that it's probably just a crummy IMEI implementation of the checker tool. Obviously, nothing is 100% reliable, but we should expect some measure of reliability on a system that's going to help us determine if we want to spend hundreds of dollars on something or not, without the expectation of being burned by a blacklisted phone. Would you like it if Carfax said the car you were interested in was perfectly fine, and then you later found out it was in totaling accident and had a salvage title? I wouldn't either.

          • Aooga

            I've used it multiple times and every time it's been correct. Same thing with carfax. That's never 100% reliable either. If you don't go through insurance and fix it yourself, how are they going to find out about it? They can't. Swappa can't say it's 100% reliable because if 1 out of a million times it isn't, they can be sued.

      • Jcastag

        How so? They blacklist devices that are not paid for.

        • Brady

          Cameron replied above.

      • enoch861

        I'm not sure how it's an oversight when they've clearly provided a tool to check if the device is being financed or not.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Yeah, I see what you mean now. According to UpgradeSwap there's no way to tell if it's financed. I see now that they're wrong.

          • Barnassey

            Doesn't work on nexus phones. It shows my nexus 5 that im financing as completely clean. Same with another buddies of mine nexus 4 that he got refurbished.

          • enoch861

            Try T-Mobile's own tool: http://www.t-mobile.com/verifyIMEI.aspx

          • Simon Belmont

            Does that tool show, reliably, if the phone is financed, though? If it does, then that's a different story.

            If it doesn't then people can still fall into the trap of buying a phone in good standing, only to have it blacklisted later if the buyer doesn't pay the phone off before selling it. That's a bad situation.

          • enoch861

            T-Mobile also provides its own tool here: http://www.t-mobile.com/verifyIMEI.aspx

          • Techngro

            They're not wrong. I used the IMEI check function on Swappa and it showed the device as being 'clean'. It said nothing about it being on EIP. Turns out it was and was later blocked by T-Mobile.

    • lusky3

      It is their fault. A financing plan should be tied to their Account/SIM, not to the device, like any other carrier does.

      • Krzysztof Jozwik

        Actually, they should all be tied to the device, discouraging the sales or stolen devices.
        I would never buy a used phone from someone I couldn't meet at a carrier store to verify my purchase was mine.

        • lusky3

          But like the article says, I could sell you a 100% legit phone (at time of purchase). It doesn't discourage it, it screws the purchaser. If a phone is stolen, it needs to be zapped (ala kill switch) before the sale and purchase can take place.

          • Claude Fountain

            This just happened to me. I met the Craigslist seller outside the Tmo store, checked the ESN on my phone, then was allowed by Tmo to activate the new phone under my account. I thought I was good... Then a week later the phone was blacklisted.

      • Rickrau5

        Its a device that still belongs to tmobile.. ur missing the whole point obviously.

        • lusky3

          Read my other reply, I know it's owned by TMo. But once the device is sold (illegal I may add) to an unsuspecting buyer, TMo should punish the seller. This hurts both the seller and the buyer. You can claim ignorance on the buyer's fault, and in part it is, but for every smart buyer out there, there are another 4 dumb ones, and an even more clever thief.

          • Techngro

            It's not always ignorance on the buyer's part. When I was buying my Note 3 from Swappa, I called T-Mobile and gave them the IMEI and asked if the phone was on a payment plan. They told me that it was not. A couple months later, it was blocked for non-payment.

          • Simon Belmont

            Actually in this case, you really can't claim ignorance on the buyer's part. Even if they check an IMEI and it shows as in good standing, it can later on wind up being blacklisted because the financed phone wasn't paid off by the seller.

            What needs to happen is a standardized (and reliable) tool to check if the IMEI belongs to a financed phone that's in good standing. If the phone is financed, I'd probably just avoid it outright, even if it was in good standing. That's the only way to be sure of avoiding this scenario.

          • wicketr

            The customer is supposed to turn in the phone. If they claim someone stole it, then they can just use the insurance provided by T-Mobile on the phone. T-Mobile will then deactivate the phone. If the customer tells them that they sold it, then they'd be responsible for the cost of the device. T-Mobile is just acting based on what the customer is telling them about what happened to the phone.

        • Juan Rojas-Carrasco

          No. The device belongs to the user. Tmobile gave them a personal loan. If the person doesn't pay the loan t mobile should punish the customer, either by suing them or ruining their credit, not the 3rd party that bought a phone from a deadbeat. In my case, I bought a used LG Flex from a customer that was trying to trade it for the Iphone6, t mobile will only give him $180.00 trade in value on the purchase (I was actually fixing a computer art the store while this was going on) so I offered the guy 260 bucks for the phone, he bought the i phone and I connected the LG on my metro pcs account(which runs on the T-Mobile network) long story short, the guy stopped paying his account and T-Mobile blacklisted MY phone which I bought from him right in front of their employees art the store. Since I have had it for over 6months and really love it, I have called everyone at Tmo to try and get the phone off the blacklist,even offered to pay whatever was owed on it and they still don't budge. They say the original owner had to pay it. That is just plain stupid. They own my carrier, makes them money for me to gave the phone and I offered to pay whatever balance was due,but they still prefer to make the phone forever unusable than to negotiate, makes no freaking sense. I'm seriously thinking on suing them.

      • David Li

        A financing plan should be tied to the purchaser's SSN (& thus Credit Score).
        A phone kill switch is just another way to screw buyers (not just second hand buyers). I don't like the idea of a company being able to remote kill my phone. If someone ( a rogue employee for example) hacked Samsung for example, millions of people would be screwed.

        • lusky3

          That too. But working in the cell phone industry, I can tell you a lot of the SSN's are stolen/fake to activate the phone, then they sell it. I also had plenty times where someone was tricked or blackmailed into purchasing fraudulent phones on their own info by a larger organization. And times where the person knew they were never returning to the country, so they damaged their own credit score themselves to make a quick buck before they left.

          • David Li

            I never considered those possibilities. The state of society is pretty disappointing if people actually commit such petty crimes for a few hundred dollars.

          • Jason Bourne

            If I see a few hundred dollars sticking out from your back pocket, I will pickpocket you and spend it on Wax to clean my guns.

          • fasdf

            I thought theres better ways to commit fraud than trying to make a few hundred dollars on cell phones.. .

      • DominickFord

        Totally agree. Had an extra HTC One laying around on finance plan. Instead of selling it for $275 had to sell it for $100. Love the jump program but it's a headache if you don't turn the phone back into T-Mobile.

    • EowynCarter

      They just need to make the original owner of the the phoe pay.

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      I know who to blame.

      • Jason Bourne

        Is that a photo of Obama?

      • GiveMeAFreakingBreak

        You're not funny, Krzystof. -_-

  • http://gplus.to/bdbplatano M. Puente

    Nexus FTW!!! (at least until Google kills off the Nexus program) ...please let that Silver rumor not be true :(

    • http://gplus.to/bdbplatano M. Puente

      can't remember the last time I subsidized a phone

      • EowynCarter

        Me too.
        Only my first one.

        Oh, and i'm happier with my N4 that i've been of all my previous phones. It just works :)
        I had it for one year, and I still don't want to throw it out of the windows.

    • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

      Keep your Nexus I'll take GPE so I don't have to compromise with a gimped phone.

  • Jcastag

    Exactly. This shows the ignorance of people that create articles such as this. It's not T-Mobile's responsibility to protect third party companies that sell used devices. They have a system in place to blacklist handsets that are not paid in full, to keep people from using devices that are not paid for. Period!

    Why do they need to change a business model to suit the needs of some website that sells used phones??

    • modplan

      The other 3 companies do not blacklist unpaid devices, they send the account holder to collections, that way not to screw over someone that bought a used phone on craigslist. TMobile screws over the guy that bought the used phone on craigslist by never allowing that phone to be activated again, that is the problem.

      • Jcastag

        Because the devices are paid for by the subsidy of the 2 year contract, and that's what they go after. There is no contract on the service with T-Mobile, so they can't go after that. All they can do is go after the device itself.

        • modplan

          VZW, ATT, and Sprint all also offer no-contract device financing, which is what I am talking about, they will not blacklist a device that is not paid for, theyll simply try to ruin your credit.

          • missinginput

            Sending accounts to collections doesn't mean they get paid for them, should fraud affect the company or people purchasing devices outside of T-Mobile which is an at risk activity. Not to mention they provide a free easy way to check for financed devices. What needs to change is people perception when buying a device that checking for financing is just as important as checking for lost or stolen block.

            If you buy a car someone is financing and they stop payments who eats the cost, the person who bought the car or the dealership that first sold the car?

      • Alexithymia

        While unfortunately, I feel like it's up to the seller to pay the phone off first before selling it. They're obligated by the jump program to pay off the device or turn it in at 50% payment.

      • https://plus.google.com/+SamanthaGobert/ Samantha Gobert

        Dont they blacklist devices? For example, someone selling a phone on craigslist with a clean IMEI and then the seller reporting it stolen after he gets the money?

  • Willie D

    Uhh, AT&T Next, Verizon EDGE, Sprint One Up/Easy Pay are all the same with financing, so I fail to see how these companies get a pass as T-Mobile does not. All of them have internal and national blacklisting options, and Sprint is one of the hardest to get a device removed, if they ever remove it at all after all debts are satisfied. So not sure what the deal is here.

    • modplan

      The deal is that these other 3 companies do not blacklist a phone as stolen if it is not paid for, they go after the account holder ruining their credit and sending them to collections.

      • dangerdad

        Doesn't matter. The original owner can simply report it as lost, and collect the insurance. When the insurance is invoked, the phone is blacklisted.

        AFAIK, there is no legit way to inform the carriers that I am legitimately selling a phone, and thus every one who buys a used phone is relying on the honesty of the seller.

  • mcnegro

    Upgrade swap seems to have a shit selection of unlocked gsm and AT&T devices. Everything is "sold out". I guess the only people who use this site are CDMA customers on sprint or verizon?

  • UpgradeSwap

    Hello everyone,

    This is the official UpgradeSwap account for Android Police.

    We understand many of you claim Swappa is fully accurate but this isn't the case. We actually listed a phone on Swappa and we check all esns before buying them. Swappa approved the listing, they wouldn't have if it said it was being financed. The buyer of that device 45 days later said the phone stopped working and that the device ESN now says it's being financed. Swappa even states that they can't guarantee the info they provide.

    This is a blow to our business and we use multiple methods of ESN verification. You are taking a risk buying used T-Mobile devices.

    Hope this can suffice as an explanation to those who felt we were wrong, and we would have been happy to be wrong but we won't take that risk in buying back T-Mobile devices.

    • GiveMeAFreakingBreak

      You guys suck. This is not T-Mobile's fault. Enough said.

  • fizdog

    Kinda hard to buy T-Mobile phones I guess. I used to buy mine off Craigslist with no problem and I just sold my s4 off Craigslist the other day which still was being paid off wonder if it got blacklisted. If so I'd feel bad because I had no idea

    • ltredbeard

      Do you not have plans to pay it off? Because it shouldn't get blacklisted if you pay it off.

      • fizdog

        True. But I thought far as T-Mobile goes the payments get added to your bill? I know mine do so technically I have to pay it whether I want to or not

        • https://plus.google.com/+SamanthaGobert/ Samantha Gobert

          Blacklisting happens when people abandon their account without ever paying off the rest of the device they purchased

        • ltredbeard

          I think the problem is the ppl who sell the phone and then stop paying their bill too.

  • HCx

    FWIW, Swappa is showing my currently financed (JUMP) Note 3 as clean and makes no mention of financing. So I don't think the system is fool proof.

    • Techngro

      Swappa's system is not even close to being useful. All it does is show you whether the current device is able to be activated (i.e. not currently blocked). Well, that means nothing at all, because a couple weeks or months down the line, the device could be reported stolen, or blocked for non-payment, leaving you holding an almost useless device (unless you want to sell it for a loss or switch carriers).

  • http://comraderudy.com Rudy Riv

    it's not just t-mo's fault. there are some shady people selling their old phones. there's nothing stopping them from selling a device then reporting it stolen the next day. they get (your cash) a new phone from their insurance and you get an unusable device.

    • modplan

      This is not what the article is about. This is about TMo blacklisting phones that are not paid for, screwing the buyer, unlike the other 3 major carriers.

      • Steve Freeman

        Apparently, you're required by the terms of the JUMP plan to turn your old phone in when you get a new one. If people are doing that, they couldn't sell it.

  • Steve P

    Looks like phones need a title just like a car. You pay off the phone then you receive the title. Then you can sell the phone and sign the title over to the next owner.

    • Craig McShannon

      I was thinking the exact same thing Steve, it's a great idea especially when you consider that these devices are costing $500+, it wouldn't be that hard to have a title printed with the carrier that you receive as "proof of ownership"

  • Scott

    What people do is they sell the phone to sites like this, or on Craigslist, then report it stolen. The insurance company they use doesn't even care. It's cheaper to pay out the claim than investigate the fraud.

  • DÅvid SuÅrez

    Well I just checked my phone which is financed with AT&T and swappa gave the green light .....?????

    • Adam

      That's because all other carriers tie the financing to the account/ssn not the physical device. That just seems like a stupid operations/policy, if it's tied to the device what is stopping anyone from going in and getting 5 phones, selling them with false personal information and jumping town? This is on the UNcarrier and their broken program

  • letsplaay

    This is EXACTLY what happened after I bought a note 3 from Swappa.

  • Bobby Foster

    This is not ... I repeat NOT!!! a Tmobile issue. Tmobile is helping prevent the unlawful theft and purchase of equipment that should not be sold or traded in. AND PHONES USED IN THE JUMP PROGRAM ARE REQUIRED TO BE TRADED INTO TMOBILE PER THE TERMS OF THE JUMP PROGRAM. Not sold off to a second provider for customer profit. I find it horrible you should single out Tmobile in this process when you do not possess the facts or knowledge to properly issue a valid opinion. This isn't fox news by god.

  • Angel

    I never finished paying for my phone and it was never blacklisted, I'm using it right now so this article doesn't even make sense.

    • MyLeftNut

      Are you really being indignant about the veracity of the article while admitting you essential "stole" your phone? Lol.

  • mrg9999

    For many phones it is trivially easy (Although illegal in most jurisdictions) to change the IMEI.

  • Ivy A Nguyen

    I was thinking the same thing too: the phone isn't truly stolen in the traditional sense of the word. I think T-Mobile should take down the customer's info (particularly birthday & SSN) even if contracts aren't around if they are financing their phone. I think the companies know what they're doing & are just trying to stop the used phone market in general. Genuinely stolen stuff likely requires a police report to process, anyway.

  • Simon Belmont

    You're not very bright if you aren't checking the IMEI prior to purchase. Every used phone that I've bought I've checked the IMEI to make sure it was valid.

    It doesn't matter where you're getting it from (T-Mobile, eBay, or an independent seller, for example). Always check the IMEI and make sure the seller proves that it's from the phone they're selling to you.

    • Steve Freeman

      Exactly (in regards to your Edit). It's just more evidence of what I've been saying for a while. Most people, if they have the chance, are assholes, and will screw over anyone if they think they can get something out of it. There seem to be less and less decent people out there all the time...

  • turdbogls

    I just bought a used G2 for T-mobile...i called and asked if the IMEI was clean, and then asked if the phone was paid off or if any money was owed on the phone. its not hard, and if upgradewap had any kind of common sense this isn't a big deal or a big surprise.

    • Techngro

      I'm sorry to tell you, but what they told you may end up meaning nothing. I did the exact same thing when I bought my Note 3 from swappa. I called T-Mobile and explained to them that I was purchasing a used phone and wanted to make sure that it was not on EIP. I gave them the IMEI and they told me that it was not. Then they blocked the phone for non-payment of EIP.

      • turdbogls

        well that blows, thankfully I recorded the phone call, So maybe I have SOMETHING if this happens.

      • Simon Belmont

        This is a really shitty situation. But, I don't know what else T-Mobile could do besides sending folks into collections, but that won't deter a lot of people, I'm sure.

        Either way, the phone is going to get black-listed for non-payment. The problem is that if you pony up the dough in that time between when the phone is in good standing and when they stop paying and it gets blacklisted later, you truly are screwed.

  • Techngro

    Swappa IS NOT any safer than Craigslist for purchasing used phones. Their system shows you the CURRENT status of the device, but as we all know, a phone can be reported lost/stolen anytime, and non-payment takes a couple of cycles to show up in the system. So you purchase a device, it works for a couple of months, then you're suddenly blacklisted and have zero recourse.

    I bought a Note 3 from Swappa and when the IMEI was checked, it did not show anything about it being on an EIP plan, which it turned out it was. It was later blocked by T-Mobile for non-payment. Swappa was no help, Paypal wouldn't let me even open a dispute because it was past the 45 day window.

    Many people who normally buy their phones used are learning that the money you save is not worth it anymore. From now on, i'm getting my phone direct from T-Mobile.

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. There needs to be a standardized check that will inform buyers if a phone is being financed or not (not just if it's in good standing CURRENTLY).

      If it is being financed, I'd probably avoid it. Just to be safe.

  • Golden Eagle

    I can't say I'm 100% against T-Mobile from doing that to prevent people from skipping out on phone payments though either. Seems like the site needs to do a little better and T-Mobile can may work a little harder with people with they can easily find out got hosed by this as the last time I checked service on their network isn't free either so there's still some money to made.

    • Simon Belmont

      I'm not against them blacklisting phones either. I'm against them not showing, reliably, that a phone has been financed in their IMEI checker tool.

      If someone is buying a T-Mobile phone, that tool should show them if it's been financed....period. Until then, you really can't trust just a phone that's in good standing, because you don't know if the seller is going to sell you a phone that's about to be blacklisted.

  • RichFromBX

    anytime I've ever done a Craigslist purchase of a phone I arrange to meet the person at the carrier store just so they can check everything right then and there.

    If someone has declined to meet me at the store, I just moved on to the next seller. Likewise, anything I sold on Craigslist I setup to meet at the store as well so they feel more comfortable about the deal.

  • Linh

    Why can't TMO/ATT have a system similar to Sprint/Verizon?

    For Sprint/Verizon, buyer can call customer service and quickly verify whether the IMEI is clean. And once, the IMEI is registered to the new buyer's account, it cannot be blacklisted due to previous owner's account status.

    I got burned once buying a TMO phone on Craigslist. Called and verified that IMEI is clean and all. However, a month later, it got blacklisted due to seller reporting it stolen or didn't pay his/her bill.

    • DaveTexan

      TMO is anti-competition on phone sales. They hate third-party selling that compete against them with lower prices.

  • Matthew Fry


  • Nate Savage

    I figured out you could do this when I had m7 and wanted to test out the nexus 5...I didn't have to "jump" since I have enough room on account credit to add cost of nexus 5. Tmobile could put a stop to that by stating only one phone per line unless previous phone is fully paid off.

  • DaveTexan

    I bought my LG G2 from eBay. T-Mobile refused to give me the information whether it was financed or not. In my opinion TMO is very against third-party competitors that sell used phones.(that gives them pressure on pricing.) TMO has cut the price on monthly fees a lot so phone sales seem to be a major source of income to them. I'd say if TMO blocks your phone you should just vote with your wallet. Actually AT&T is offering fairly competitive pricing nowadays. If you get a corporate discount you could actually get lower prices from ATT than TMO, YMMV. Also while TMO LTE is faster where it's available, ATT and Verizon still have better coverage. Luckily my LG G2 is still working fine after 9 months...Since I have fulfilled my contract and paid $2 to unlock my phone. If TMO ever blocks it I'm going to jump and run to ATT.

  • AK

    This happened to me today. Had the phone for a year! The IMEI status check tool should simply state if EIP obligation exists or not. I can then make an informed decision to buy or not.