The site that could stop you getting ripped off when you buy a used phone: Interactive checker can tell you if a handset has been stolen

Buying a used smartphone can be less expensive than opting for a new unit – but second hand devices have the potential to be stolen goods.

Now, a Washington, DC-based firm has rolled out an online tool that lets consumers, businesses and law enforcement check whether a device has been reported stolen or lost.

Called Stolen Phone Checker, users type in the iPhone’s IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) and will instantly be shown the status in real-time.

Stolen Phone Checker, developed by CTIA, a mobile phone industry trade group, is powered by the GSMA Device Check.

This service keeps a record of up to 10 years’ of a smartphones history and the device’s model information and capabilities.

And it helps those in the business of reselling smartphones identify if any are stolen before pushing them back out to the market.

GSMA Device Check also allows them to determine the true device model authenticity, which helps calculate an accurate value.

Now, CTIA has used the technology to help the public weed out stolen devices.

‘The service provides the wireless industry with the definitive, single source of real-time lost or stolen mobile device data,’ the firm shared on its website.

‘Using multiple source databases, the Stolen Phone Checker helps consumers, commercial organizations and law enforcement agencies in the US to know if a mobile device has been reported lost or stolen.’

PROTECT YOUR SMARTPHONE

Be aware: Be careful how you use your smartphone while out in public.

Do not call attention to it or create opportunities for thieves to steal it such as leaving it on a table or letting a stranger borrow it.

Lock it: The first thing you should do when getting a new phone is set up a password and change it every so often.

Add apps: Apps can now remotely track, lock and/or erase personal information on your smartphone if your device is stolen or lost.

Save it: Be sure to backup any content on your phone that you wouldn’t want to lose.

Insure it: It never hurts to have a to insure your device, as if it is stolen or loss, you can replace it immediately.

Check your used smartphone here

Consumers are able to look up the status of up to five smartphones per day, while law enforcement has unlimited access – but the tool is only available in the US.

More than 2 million smartphones are stolen in the US each year, which has sparked the need for tools similar to CTIA’s, however, researchers are also lending a hand in putting an end to phone theft.

A team at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia unveiled a mechanism in March that looks like a special effect from the Mission Impossible films – it is designed to self-destruct when the device is stolen.

When triggered, the technology gathers power from the device’s battery, allowing it to expand seven times its original size and explode within 10 seconds, IEEE Spectrum reported.

The expandable polymer expands much more and causes sufficient tension in the thin silicon—which is sitting on top of the polymer—so it simply crumples and then breaks,’ said Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, an electrical engineer at KAUST.

The technology pulls power from the stolen devices battery and once it reaches a temperature over 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 °C) it will know to expand until it explodes.

About 500 to 600 milliwatts is gathered for the heater electrodes that expands and crumbles the chip within 10 to 15 seconds.

However, the researchers noted that even just 300 milliwatts will self-destruct in just a little over a minute.

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