CheckESNFree, WebHave you ever bought a used Sprint or Verizon Wireless device from Ebay or Craigslist only to find out it can’t be activated because the ESN is bad?  Sure everyone says ESN’s are good but most times you’re taken the word of a seller that you’ve never met. Feedback on Ebay can usually tell you the story of whether or not the seller is a good seller but you still take a risk until the device reaches your home and you go to sign it onto your account.

Recently I was selling my Sprint iPhone on Craigslist. One potential buyer had an intriguing trade that involved another Sprint phone but when I emailed that seller and asked for the ESN I never heard back. Had I done that deal I would have probably been stuck with a brick.

CheckESNFree is a website that will allow potential buyers and sellers to quickly see if the ESN registered to that device is “clean”. That will ultimately tell you whether you should do the deal or run to another seller. CheckESNFree will tell you whether the phone is lost, stolen or can’t be activated because of billing issues on the original users account. All three things mean you can’t activate the device on your line. provides a free database covering phones from most cell phone providers. When buying a phone or other device, ask the seller for the ESN (electronic serial number), MEID (mobile equipment identifier), or IMEI (international mobile equipment identifier) number and the mobile provider (these numbers are typically found beneath the battery, other times like with the iPhone, go to settings >> general >> about >> then scroll to IMEI for the number). If the seller won’t supply the number, move on.  If the seller provides it, then simply input the number into the designated area. Results will be 100 percent clear and simple. A clean ESN means it’s a valid device, ready for activation. A bad ESN or invalid ESN means that there is an issue, whether it’s a lost or stolen phone, blacklisted, or has issues from unpaid bills.

Consumer Reports estimates that 1.6 million Americans fell victim to smartphone theft in 2012 and in Canada, Metro Vancouver Transit Police say that the violent theft of electronics has shot up 31 percent. Unfortunately, the possibility of dealing with dishonest individuals happens when buying from Craigslist, Ebay, or even local classified ads. Recognizing that the problem exists and protecting personal items by writing down the model and serial number, plus the ESN, IMEI, or MEID number is essential. By having this information available in case of theft, devices can be logged into the system

Got a phone to check out, head over to