There are a number of scenarios in which a consumer must find their phone’s unique IMEI number. Most top tier cell phone Insurance carriers often request this number, for instance, as do cell phone providers.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Most smartphones have a unique 15-digit code called the IMEI number, which should be thought of as the phone’s fingerprint.
  • This IMEI number can be used by a mobile phone carrier in the event of a theft in order to restrict access to the network.
  • A consumer can find this code by dialing *#06# and waiting for the number to appear on the display.

What is an IMEI Number?

An IMEI stands for the International Mobile Equipment Identity number. This is a unique set of digits given to each smartphone and even some satellite phones. It can be beneficial to think of the IMEI number as your phone’s individualized fingerprint. It has 15 digits and is assigned to every GSM phone, though CDMA devices are issued a MEID number.

Insider Tip

Not only can mobile providers use this number to attempt to locate the lost phone, but they can also use it to negate access from the carrier’s network.

What is an IMEI Number Used For?

There are a number of ways in which an IMEI number can be useful, both to the consumer and to various smartphone providers and insurance agencies. Also, an IMEI number is also important if you want to know how to cancel your cell phone insurance.

Theft Reporting

If your smartphone is lost or stolen, obtaining the IMEI number can be extremely handy. Not only can mobile providers use this number to attempt to locate the lost phone, but they can also use it to negate access from the carrier’s network. In other words, if your phone is stolen, the thief will not be able to actually use the phone if the carrier restricts access to the network. We recommend contacting your phone service provider if you ever lose a phone or have one stolen.

Buying Security

If you are purchasing a used smartphone or related satellite-enabled gadget, you may want to ask for the phone’s IMEI number. Knowing this number and accessing an IMEI database can ensure you are not buying a stolen phone. Generally speaking, if a potential seller on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace is hesitant to issue the IMEI number, that could be an indication that the phone is stolen property. If you buy a stolen phone, the original owner could deny access to the network at any time, rendering it useless.

On the other hand, sellers may be hesitant to give out the IMEI number as it could leave the phone vulnerable to hackers. Buying a used smartphone can be tricky.

Repair Inquiries

A phone’s unique IMEI number contains all kinds of information hard-coded during the manufacturing process. This information can come in handy during the repair process, letting your technician know exactly what your phone should be capable of. The number can also be a useful tool as your mobile phone provider works with you to troubleshoot any potential issues that have arisen during use.

Insider Tip

Knowing this number and accessing an IMEI database can ensure you are not buying a stolen phone.

How to Find an IMEI Number

Here are some general tips and guidelines to help you easily find your phone’s IMEI number. Each carrier, manufacturer, and operating system can vary in this regard.

Android Phones

Most phones that feature the Android operating system offer a similar method to locate the IMEI number. The easiest way to find the IMEI on an Android phone is to dial *#06#. After a few moments, the number should appear on your screen. You can also find the IMEI number in the system settings of your phone by heading to About Device > Status > IMEI information, though this process could differ from handset to handset. Another option is to check the phone’s original packing, as the IMEI number should be printed somewhere on the back.

If you have a dual-SIM Android phone, each of the aforementioned methods should produce a pair of IMEI numbers.

Apple iPhones

There are a couple of ways to find an iPhone’s IMEI number. The easiest way is a similar method to how Android users find their unique code. Simply dial *#06# and in a few moments, your 15-digit IMEI number should appear on your display. Another way is to go to Settings > General and tap About. Scroll down and look for the IMEI number. This is the same method a consumer would use to find an iPhone’s serial number and other relevant information. You can also use this method to know if you have Applecare.

Warning

We recommend contacting your phone service provider if you ever lose a phone or have one stolen.

F.A.Q.

Why should I report my device as lost or stolen?

Reporting your phone as lost as stolen can enable the mobile provider to restrict access to the network, stopping the thief from accessing the phone and your contents.


I found the device I reported as lost or stolen. What should I do?

If you have found a device previously thought to be stolen, we recommend contacting your mobile provider and letting them know.


What is the IMEI blacklist?

Phones that have been flagged as lost or stolen have their IMEI numbers placed on a blacklist, so as to deter thieves.



STAT: 70 million smartphones are lost each year, with only 7 percent recovered. 4.3 percent of company-issued smartphones are lost or stolen every year. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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