| | |

How To Unlock A Blacklisted Phone For Free| The Help Guide in 2024

So you’ve been shopping around, and you finally went out and bought a phone as a private party. You get in touch with your carrier, only to find out that they cannot get the phone unlocked because it’s a blacklisted phone ! You now essentially have a paperweight sitting on your desk that you can’t use because of that blacklisting. You’ve tried to contact the seller because you were told you can still use the phone but have heard nothing back.

What do you do? What does blacklisting even mean and how can it get blacklisted in the first place? Is there a way that you can get around the blacklisting? Follow along below, and we’ll show you the information that you need to know.

What is a blacklisted phone?

Phones by default are not shipped as blacklisted. A carrier will tag a phone as blacklisted due to something fairly negative has happened to that phone. This usually means that the original account owner stopped paying on the device, or it was reported stolen or lost or was detected to be involved in fraudulent activity. When a phone is in a blacklist status because the carrier put it in the blacklists, it is not able to use its network of origin anymore, and it certainly cannot be unlocked to be used on another network in the United States.

New phones are rarely included in a blacklist nor reported as lost or stolen. If the phone is blacklisted either a new phone or used one, you can still activate it. But after a short duration of time, it’s kicked off of the network, and you might even get a phone call from AT&T regarding it. Generally, blacklisted phones are considered to be useless, and therefore, paperweights. A carrier generally blacklists the unique identifier attached to the phone — or the IMEI and the serial number — and there’s no changing that identifier, unfortunately.

Blacklisting is a term that’s used with GSM carriers. These are carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and their subsidiaries. There’s a completely different term for CDMA carriers — carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and their subsidiaries — and that is what is called a “Bad ESN.” There’s literally no difference between the two terms, it’s just how the different carriers interpret it.

So for most people, you’re short out of luck; however, there’s still some methods available to you.

Are Blacklisted phones useless at all?

When purchasing a used phone, it is recommended to check IMEI number to ensure that you won’t be spending something for nothing. But what if you’ve already purchased one? If you can no longer return the phone to its original owner, you can still make use of it by unlocking the phone. Here are some of your options:

1. Third-party services

The only way that you can bypass a blacklist or unlock a blacklisted phone is through a third-party unlocking company. An unlocking company can only do so much as well. They can get a blacklisted phone unlocked with or without the use of an unlock code. Thus, they can generally recover the phone enough to where you can use it on networks outside of the US, but no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to use the phone on a United States cellular network ever again.

For iPhone users, there are third-party services that can unlock blacklisted iPhones and be able to use other carriers after the removal process. They can unlock the phone remotely. All you need to do is to provide them with the phone’s IMEI number. The device will be permanently unlocked and can no longer be put in the blacklist again.

Here are the iPhone models that third-party services can unlock:

  • iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s
  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone 6, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone X and iPhone XS
  • and other iPhone models

If the phone you wanted to unlock isn’t an iPhone, check out the second option.

2. Call up the carrier and request for IMEI blacklist removal

If you’re a private buyer, sometimes you can call up the carrier or visit one of the carrier’s corporate offices to work something out. After all, the blacklisting wasn’t your fault, so why should you have to pay for the consequences? The original carrier will also be able to perform an IMEI check to find out the reason why the phone is blacklisted.

Sometimes you can tell the representative at the carrier what happened. This usually involves verifying your social security number, your address, and your state driver’s license. You have to prove that you are without a doubt not the original account owner for them to even consider returning the phone to its normal operation. If you can prove that, you can be given a new SIM to use with the phone or be given an unlock code, and proceed as if nothing ever happened.

However, this doesn’t always work. For example, if the phone was reported  lost or stolen, you will actually be required to surrender the device to the carrier. And unfortunately, you’ll lose out on any money that you paid for the phone as a private seller — there isn’t much protection here, especially if you don’t know where the seller lives or how to get in touch with the seller.


As you can see, there isn’t much hope when it comes to unlocking a blacklisted phone. Like we mentioned, if it’s something that was reported as lost or stolen, you just won’t be able to use that phone at all. Third-party services generally aren’t helpful in this regard, unless you plan on moving out of the country or selling the phone to someone who lives out of country.

And unfortunately, there aren’t many options to get your money back . You can file a police report, but it isn’t going to do much good if you don’t know where the person lives, or even have any information on that person.

This is why it’s always good to go through some verification steps before you buy a used phone as a private buyer. You can use an IMEI checker to make sure that the phone you are about to purchase won’t caused you any trouble. If you go to www.swappa.com to do a blacklist check, you can enter the phone’s IMEI number ( International Mobile Equipment Identity ) in a field, where Swappa will be able to check if it is a blacklisted phone or a phone with a bad ESN. If the seller isn’t willing to give you this information for you to check IMEI — it just isn’t worth the risk in buying. This can save you from a future purchase gone wrong.

I hope that we are able to help you one way or another. If you know someone who might want to unlock a blacklisted phone, feel free to share this post. You can also show us your support by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

All rights reserved


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *