Best practices when purchasing a used phone?


    I currently am the proud (almost) owner of a Samsung S6 Edge phone. I have only one payment left on it and made the horrible mistake of cancelling my device protection on it. The LCD has gone out on the phone and I'm unable to finance a new one. I've been searching Craigslist and all of the online "sell used stuff" kind of apps, but I was wondering, since I've never done this before, what I should look for when purchasing a phone from a stranger?


    1. How do I know the phone has been legitimately paid off and not stolen?

    2. Is there a way to know if the phone actually works within the 10 - 15 mins of checking it out? Meaning any kind of diagnostic type tests that could be run?


    I appreciate your input in advance.



      All replies

      • smplyunprdctble

        The problem isn't when you make a purchase.  The problem is what can happen after.  Which is why you need a reputable seller (e.g. most of the time not Craigslist or ebay).


        The seller should be able to provide you a document stating any EIP is paid off.  This would be a print out from their T-Mobile account.  I don't know if it shows the IMEI on it, so there's the risk it could be a different device than the one purchased.


        You know if the phone works by popping your SIM in it and making a call and testing data.


        The problem is what can happen days, if not weeks later.  The seller (or, in the event it WAS stolen, the original owner) could file a claim that the device was stolen, and thus gets deactivated from the network.  They file a claim and get a replacement device for $175 and you're out the $500 you spent.  T-Mobile believes the claimant because they have record that they owned the phone.  There's no record that you legitimately purchased the device (or illegitimately, if it was stolen and resold).


        I'm not certain if T-Mobile offers a "hey, someone wants to buy my phone" transfer option (it would be awesome if they do because the device could be transferred in store, which would be a safer option than the scary things my grandmother told me happened from Craigslist that she heard on the radio).



        Now, the better question to ask is "why do you want a used phone and not a new phone?" -- You said yourself that you're one payment away from it being paid off.  That means you have a full credit available to purchase a new device (assuming you paid your last 12 months on time, you would qualify for "top tier credit" down payment amount -- this is probably the same if not less than purchasing a used phone in full).

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        • drnewcomb2

          I don't think I'd buy the phone off Craigslist unless the seller was willing to meet me at the carrier's store and and have the phone moved from his account to mine by the store personnel. I don't think I'd buy a phone off eBay any more unless the seller had a positive reputation over a thousand and had a money-back guarantee.


          You can also fix the phone:

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