Canada Introduces Stolen Phones Blacklist: How to Avoid Purchasing a Stolen Mobile Device Through a Third Party Retailer

December 17, 2013

On October 1st, the stolen phones blacklist was officially launched in Canada. Cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices that have been reported stolen can no longer be activated by wireless providers, rendering the device useless to whoever possesses it.

Most Canadian wireless service providers, including all members of Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, will start checking whether a device is blacklisted on an international database of lost and stolen devices. If the device’s unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is blacklisted, the phone will not be activated. The authorization of any GSM, HSPA, HSPA+ or LTE wireless device on any participating Canadian carrier’s network will include verification that the IMEI number of the device has not been reported as lost or stolen. The objective is to make stolen phones, tablets, and other mobile devices less valuable by denying them access to a network. Only devices reported stolen or missing to Canadian wireless carriers starting September 30, 2013, are included on the blacklist.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Mid-Western and Central Ontario has recently experienced an increase in consumer inquiries regarding the purchase of mobile devices on third party websites such as eBay, Kijiji, and Craigslist. Consumers are purchasing devices which have been reported as stolen, and subsequently finding they are unable to activate the item. Any money spent to purchase the device will not be refunded if it proves to be blacklisted.

Here are some tips to keep in mind, should you choose to purchase a mobile device through a third party retailer:

Verify whether the device’s IMEI number has been reported stolen. You can contact your wireless service provider directly to confirm a device’s IMEI number has not been blacklisted. You can also visit The company’s website features a convenient tool to verify the status of any IMEI number in Canada. In addition, be suspicious of any seller who will not provide you with this information, prior to making your transaction.

Investigate what you are purchasing. Research how a specific device should function, along with how to properly test it. Test everything that could be broken until you are satisfied that the gadget is worth paying for.

Recognize that refunds may not be possible. If you buy a device that is broken or stolen, be aware that you likely will not receive your money back. Third party retailers are not obligated to provide customer support.

Be wary of devices without accessories. If an item does not come its original packaging, complete with cables, chargers, USBs, user’s guides and manuals, be suspicious. It could be stolen.

Deal in person at a safe location, preferably in cash. Never deal with someone who requests credit card information or money transfers, unless you are completing your transaction online through a secure network. If you choose to deal in person, meet at a safe location and bring a friend or family member with you.

Be reasonable. Understand the retail cost of the device you intend to purchase. If a third party seller offers a price that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For more tips and consumer news, visit our website at To speak with a BBB representative in our Dispute Resolution and Information Services Department, contact 1 (800) 459-8875. Public phone line hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 2:00pm.