Mobile phones for sale displaying IMEI?

Just looking around the shops in free time and I notice a second hand phone shop have the usually raft of phones both androind and iPhone in the windows. They have the usual specs listed on a sticker but at the bottom of them all is the phone IMEI number.

I am ignorant of facts related to it but I thought that was supposed to be a relative secret number for your individual phone.

Maybe it is fine but just seems odd and I have never seen anyone do it before.

Being that it is a International Mobile Equipment Identifier, it is supposed to be unique to that specific handset like a VIN number to any car in the world.
There are a few reasons to provide this number to prospective buyers that I can think of:

  1. You can lookup an IMEI on some websites just to verify the make model of the phone,
  2. You are also able to check for blacklisting, vendor locking, sometimes stolen property status, etc.,
  3. Carriers often provide a portal or lookup feature that allows you to use an IMEI to report on carrier compatibility with a specific phone.

In a small shop as you describe, it’s likely to provide piece of mind that its not stolen property by basically showing you the carfax.

Hope the vehicle analogy helped. Suffice it to say it’s not as secret as it is just unique. Could having that knowledge be used for nefarious purposes? I guess so, but I can’t really imagine what that would look like.

Now IMSI is a different ballgame. The IMSI is you (the “subscriber”) thats information you don’t want leaked because it can be used to identify and track you.


Are they imported phones, by any chance? Xiaomis, Realmes, Huaweis or something like that ?

Some shops from around here display the IMEIs just so you can check on Anatel’s (the local regulatory board) site if the device is allowed to function within the country, since some models can get blocked if they’re not deemed certifiable.

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Yes that mes a lot of sense and was what j was thinking to some degree I was just not sure if you could do shenanigans with reporting the IMEI as stolen or otherwise mess with it.

@Automobili3XF yes there are a lot of those but I imagine they are all local and we generally dont have lock outs like that here, as long as the ridio bands are right then your phone is good here.


Perhaps you could, but you may also need to prove ownership of it to report it stolen, In that case you may require that your carrier provide you with a record of the phone having been tied to your account or something. So while there may be some potential for abuse it’s probably not as likely or easy as you can imagine.

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You know how cars need to have the vin number visible through the windscreen now? Maybe this is another way to allow The Fuz to check for stolen handsets, even if shop closed?

Okay, not very likely.

Maybe more to do with ensuring correct phone goes in correct placeholder, and they don’t accidentally sell an iPhone xg1sMaxTurbo as an iPhone5miniMacG76 or some silliness

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Most places are going that now so you can verify its a clean device

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Didn’t think of that. But that does bring up an interesting thought that this could be something to do with a local regulatory body. Like the FTC in the US has rules about advertisements, maybe the shop must post and provide the numbers to consumers as a regulatory requirement.

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Probably a lot.more likely than you think. That’s actually one of the best applications of this yet.