Since we live in a world of postpaid cellphones, it is commonplace to find yourself in a situation where you have damaged your device. You have no insurance or insufficient insurance coverage on it, AND you have no available device upgrade any time soon. In such cases, you often have limited options. At most stores, you are simply offered a new device at the full retail price (which is real high) or offered to add an additional line to your account in order to qualify for a discounted device. In reality, neither one of these options are great, except your plan is altered in a manner to absorb the cost of a new line, while retaining or improving your service value. In the absence of that, you are better off purchasing a device from a third-party source e.g online (ebay etc) or in person (Craigslist etc), or a used device store.
Owing to the nature of these alternatives, the source of the devices are often questionable. In order to stay out of trouble, you want to do an ESN check (particularly if it is CDMA – Verizon/Sprint).
The way CDMA works, a device can be ineligible for activation for a number of reasons ranging from- the device previously being reported as lost/stolen, or the device being currently attached to a delinquent account. To make sure you do not buy a device that will end up being dead weight, follow these simple steps for both Verizon and Sprint before paying for a used device.
Step 1: Identify the ESN number. It usually starts in the format A10000.. or similar.
Step 2: Go to the Verizon ESN check tool here.
Step 3: A field says “Check if your device is eligible, Enter your device ID:”
Step 4: Input ESN, and click “Check Eligibility.”
It instantly notifies you whether or not this device is eligible to be activated.
Though not as seamless as Verizon’s online tool, you can check ESN eligibility with Sprint by
Option 1: Call customer care, and provide the ESN, and they will immediately verify it.
Option 2: Visit the Sprint Community site and send a “private message” to them- containing your phone number, Sprint account PIN, and device ESN. They will respond with an eligibility status.
Option 3: Go to a Sprint store, and they can also look it up.
I have seen people lose hundreds of dollars by skipping this important step in used phone purchase. Don’t be one of them.