Selling Old iPhones on eBay? Attach iCloud Activation Unlocked Details

We are writing this post for two reasons:

  • New iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are here
  • eBay scams are also here

Let’s talk about the eBay scams. Because we read this one fascinating story where the seller was duped by the buyer…


We cannot confirm the validity of the story, but there’s a lesson to learn here. And this matters to you if you are ever going to sell your Apple iPhone on eBay or any other online platform.

Here’s why:

Say that you are listing your old iPhone for auction with the pics, warranty, price and AppleCare+ details on eBay. And someone decides to buy it.

Now this buyer can report back to eBay claiming that the phone is iCloud activation locked.

Note: Whenever an iPhone is iCloud locked, it cannot be activated. Apple iPhone will be unusable. You can’t bypass the setup process – and the only solution to this is to enter the password of the Apple account the device was original linked to.

In other words, say that you are a seller – and you have erase all the data from your iPhone… yet when the buyer gets it, he/she will say that the device is locked and it shows your Apple ID (seller’s ID).

To “unlock” this locked iPhone, you have to share your password. Now you are in a dilemma because when you share your password of your Apple account, you are technically giving everything to the buyer – from iCloud data to access to the App Store, purchased apps, etc.

And that is where the buyer can take advantage of you through the eBay program. He/she can report to eBay to request a full refund.

This has happened to Mike, who recently published an article on such “extortion” from a buyer.

After investing lot of time, Mike was able to sort it out, but he has a piece of advice for all the eBay sellers out there:

And that dear reader is why I must offer you this advice when using eBay to sell your iPhone: you must keep a record proving that the iPhone is iCloud unlocked whilst in transit to the buyer, that way you will have zero self-doubt.

You can do this by sending it Royal Mail Special Delivery (other courier services are available) and keep the proof of posting – this includes the tracking number and the date/time you dropped it off with the Post Office.

Now go to Apple’s iCloud Activation Lock checker website and enter the iPhone serial number, take a screenshot.

On Reddit, few more key points were published:

  1. Clearly state in the auction that the phone will be shipped in a clean, but iCloud Activation Locked state.
  2. Before the phone is shipped, the buyer must confirm that they acknowledge the phone will be received in a locked state via email.
  3. Upon verification of the phone’s IMEI via email, the seller will release the lock remotely within four hours time.

So that’s it – make sure that the old iPhones you are selling / auctioning on eBay have a clear description that puts you on the safer side after the transaction completes.

This year, we are seeing lots of scams related to iPhones, and one of them appears on the device as a pop-up warning requesting $500 to “unlock” your iPhone. As usual, we are committed to share whatever we know with you – with full transparency – so you can avoid such scams.