Bought A Used Mobile Phone? Need Unlocking? Maybe Not!

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Have you brought a used phone recently?, Put in a sim card only to find you cannot phone out on it.
when you try to call any phone numbers a message appears "call diverted", then it cuts off the dialling and goes back to the main screen. it says "Limited Service"!.

So you need it may need unlocking yes? No you probably dont, Although "Limited Service" can mean there is no signal!
There is more of a likely chance the phone is BLOCKED/BARRED (basically its been reported lost or stolen).

Rectifying this is a litte more complicated but not impossible as you have to change the IMEI Number with a cable & software.

IMEI changing is ILLEGAL in the UK 


Q: What is a barred , blocked phone?
A:  A mobile phone that has been reported stolen and is useless.  
Q: How does a mobile get barred or blocked?
A: When a person buys a mobile it is registerd to them whether its a "Pay As Yo u Go", "contract" or "pre-pay tariff" on "any network"
and the person either: 

1. reports there mobile phone as lost to their service or network provider.
2. Has had their mobile stolen and reports this to their service or network provider.
The relevant numbers to report a stolen or lost mobile are:
Network Operator: Orange
Contract: 07973 100150
Pre-pay:  07973 100451

Network Operator: Vodafone
Contract: 07836 191191
Pre-pay:  08700 776655

Network Operator: T Mobile
Contract:  0845 412 5000
Pre-pay: 0845 412 5000 

Network Operator: O2 
Contract: 08705 214000
Pre-pay:  08705 678678

Network Operator: Virgin Mobile
Contract: 0845 6000 789
Pre-pay:  0845 6000 789

Network Operator: 3
Contract: 07782 333 333
Pre-pay:  07782 333 333 

Q:   What happens when a mobile phone is reported lost or stolen to their network?
A:  The network provider then puts the serial number ( the IMEI number for the phone) on a shared blacklist database.  This list stops any phone on it from registering on any network.  The phone is now unable to make or receive calls to anyone; barred phones should not be bought for spare parts as it is a criminal offence(Handling Stolen Goods).  If you ever find such a phone it should be handed in to the police so that it can be returned to the owner as he or she may have some important informaion or sentimental photos in the memory of the mobile phone. 
Q: How do yo u find out if a mobile is barred or blocked?
A: Common symptoms of blocked stolen or lost mobile phones are:
T-Mobile & Virgin Mobile Vodafone O2 & Orange
When a sim is inserted in the phone it will seem as though the mobile phone is working and will show that you have reception on the network.
However if yo u try to dial out although it will seem that the call is going through,  you will hear a number unrecognised tone. 
If you were to dial the number of the sim card you entered, the mobile would not ring when called.
The phone will again show reception but when an outbound call is made it will repeatedly fail.  You will only be able to send text messages.
When you try to call any phone numbers a message appears "call diverted", then it cuts off the dialling and goes back to the main screen. it says "Limited Service"!.
Note:  Sometimes a phone will work on the Vodafone network for calls going out but the sim will be barred after a while.
If yo u check it on other networks yo u can find out if the phone is barred as it will display the symptoms described for the other networks.
On O2 and Orange the sim will say simcards registration failure, will have no reception and no network operator logo will appear. 
Q: What should I do if I buy a second-hand mobile ?
A: Check to find out where the second-hand or new phone you are buying has come from and whether the phone is on a contract or Pay As Yo u Go.  It's common for people to abuse the insurance on their phone by selling it, then later on reporting it as stolen.  That way they get a replacement phone whilst the person they have sold the phone to loses out as their phone will be barred and blocked.

Q: Is changing the IMEI the same as unlocking?
A: Mobile networks often lock handsets so that they are only able to operate on specific networks.  The unlocking of handsets to allow them to operate on any network is not against the law and is not the same as changing the IMEI.

Q. What is IMEI?
A.  An International Mobile Equipment Identity number is the 15-digit number assigned to a handset at the point of manufacture. It uniquely identifies each handset in a similar way to the Vehicle Identification Number on the chassis of a vehicle.
It describes the manufacturer, phone model and is unique to every single device. You will need your IMEI number when requesting technical support from the manufacturer and also when purchasing software from Some Online Shops as most registration keys are IMEI-based.


When buying a used phone ask questions like

  1. Does The Phone Display Limited Service
  2. Where/How was it Purchased/Aquired
  3. How long have they had it.
  4. Why are they selling it.
  5. Is/Was it a contract phone
  6. Has it got the original accerories (Box, Charger, Manual)
  • Allways make sure you give the seller ample time to answer at least 2 days.(Most honest sellers will be quick to answer a simple queston While a dishonest seller will choose to ignore the question.)
  • Newish Phones with no chargers or accessories can be a give away (though obviously some have genuine reasons)
  • Make sure that if you buy a phone you register the phone with your network provider as if the phone gets barred at a later date you are mostly covered.  Unfortunately there isn't a database that allows the public to call up a automated service and check if the phone has been barred and where the phone originated from.
contact me for more information!.
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