Warning signs an iPhone may have been stolen

Don't Waste Your Money

With more and more cell phone carriers now starting to charge full list price for smartphones, your next phone could cost $500, not the subsidized price of $199 (with two-year agreement).

That's leading to a big market online for used phones, where you can find refurbished or used phones at a fraction of the price.

But before you buy... a warning.

That great used iPhone you find on eBay may not be so great in the end, because it may be stolen.

Beware Super Low Price

A new report in PC Magazine warns used phone buyers to beware low-priced iPhone 5's, 5C's, and 5S's, because there's a good chance they are stolen goods.

It says look especially for the words "iCloud locked,"which often means the real owner turned it off through the IOS 7 locking feature when he realized it was lost.

PC Mag found more than a thousand iCloud locked phones for sale on eBay, and wondered why anyone would be legitimately selling a locked phone.

Also watch for the words "Bad ESN," which means its electronic security number has been blacklisted by the major carriers, usually after having been reported stolen.

Doesn't That Stink?

And from the doesn't that stink file, why anyone would want to buy a locked phone.

Why? Because hackers now claim they have found ways to break the lock and activate these phones, making them as good as new.

If it's your stolen phone, you'll say "doesn't that stink?"

Future phones may have kill switches, where the owner can destroy the phone remotely if its stolen.

You can't do that yet. So before you buy any used phone, check out the seller carefully, and make sure they take returns.

And consider a refurbished model from a legitimate retailer, even if it costs more.
    
That way you don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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