With the recent release of the iPhone 7, it should come as no surprise that a number of people are trying to upgrade to the newest piece of tech from Apple. Of course, all those people most likely already have an iPhone of some sort, so they will be looking to either trade in their old phone for a discount or sell it to a third party. Many people who own their own phone outright choose to sell it through a classified ad site like Craigslist since it will allow them to get more value out of the device than trading it into a retailer. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who will attempt to take advantage of those trying to buy these iPhones by creating false ads as a way of scamming unsuspecting buyers.
Browsing iPhone Classifieds
Once you’ve decided that buying a used iPhone through a classified ad is the best way to get the utility of an iPhone without the exorbitant price of a brand new unit, you’ll want to start perusing the internet for the best deals. Some deals might be too good to be true, and those are the ones that you need to avoid. You can glean much more information from an ad than many people realize. Ask yourself the following questions when you click on a new ad for a used iPhone.
- Is the ad intelligently written? Is it filled with spelling and grammar errors?
- Does the ad include photos? Are there multiple photos, or just one?
- What sort of accessories does the device include? Are they mentioned in the ad?
- What is the asking price for the device? Is it comparable to similar devices on the same site?
You can often determine whether an ad is legitimate without ever having to contact the person who made it. Of course, these are not guaranteed rules, but merely red flags that might point to a scam. You’ll be able to determine much more by communicating with the person who is trying to sell the phone.
Contacting the Seller
If you’ve found several good options based on their ads, the next step is to contact the seller to ask about the device. Most sellers will include either an email address or phone number with the ad. Phone numbers are typically a better sign of a legit seller, especially if you actually get a real person on the other end. Email addresses are more likely to hide scammers, but many upstanding sellers prefer to do business through email as well. Any suspicious behavior should be noted during the exchanges.
If you email the seller at the email given in the ad and they respond with a request for you to reply back to a second email address, be wary of the seller. These sorts of tactics allow a scammer to use a ‘legit’ email address to form the ad, and then transfer over to the scam address to deal with the victim.
If you are able to get the seller on the phone, you’ll have a much better chance of determining the validity of their offer. Be sure to ask for the serial number for the device, regardless of whether you talk on the phone or through email. If the seller is unable to provide a valid serial number, the sale is obviously a scam. Any serial number they give you can be checked online using any number of serial number identifiers. This will let you know if the serial number is connected to a phone that has been stolen, lost, or is out of warranty.
Negotiations and Meeting
Once you’ve found an option that you consider legitimate, you can try haggling with the seller to reduce the price if you wish. A seller that is willing to haggle is much less likely to be a scammer. Even if they won’t budge on the price, their reaction can allow you to determine for certain whether or not they have the phone before you plan to meet anywhere.
It should go without saying that you’ll have to meet in person with the seller in order to buy the iPhone. That is the only way to be certain you aren’t getting scammed. A seller might suggest that you wire them the payment for the phone so they can simply mail it to you, but that is a giant red flag. Never send anyone any money over the internet for an item unless it is an authorized legal retailer. Even if the seller is legitimate, and even if they actually have the phone in hand, they may decide to keep your money and not send the phone, and there isn’t anything you could do about it.
Always choose a public place with a fair amount of visibility whenever meeting a stranger from the internet, even if it is an electronics dealer. You never know for certain who you’ll be meeting, and meeting in a private or secluded area is an invitation to being robbed or worse.
Checking the iPhone
Once you’ve met the dealer, be sure to thoroughly check the phone before you hand over any money. Some scammers are adept at switching out dead phones with functional ones, and if they think they can get away with giving you something worthless in exchange for hundreds of your dollars, they will do it. If they are selling you the phone without the SIM card, ask them to show you that the phone works before they remove the card.
Be sure to ask whether the iPhone has been jailbroken or not. Jailbroken phones might have voided warranties from Apple, but some unlocked phones can be fixed with a simple full restore. If the seller seems like a upstanding individual, it might be a good idea to try to set up some sort of return policy in the event the phone shows signs of failure or other issues soon after you buy it.