iPhone and iPad

Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First!

Tim Brookes 20-09-2013

It’s no secret that iOS is a secure operating system The Dangers of iPhone Spyware Spying on an iPhone? Reckon spyware is installed on your iPhone? Here's what you need to know about spyware and jailbreak. Read More , but Apple’s latest firmware update adds yet another level of protection for consumers. The popular Find My iPhone Find Your Lost Or Stolen iPhone, iPad Or iPod Touch with Find My iPhone Read More (also known as Find My iPad) service is getting an update, and one that can turn your device into an expensive brick in the wrong hands.


While this has widely been viewed as a very good thing, users purchasing a used iPhone running iOS 7 now face another concern: purchasing a device they can never use. Here’s how Apple’s new activation lock works, and what to look for when buying or selling an iOS 7 device.

What Is Activation Lock?

Find My iPhone was introduced when Apple unveiled iCloud along with iOS 5. The feature got off to a flying start, allowing users to track and send messages to their device from the web-based iCloud control panel or iOS apps, and in serious situations a remote-wipe could be initiated. Our own author James Bruce took the feature for a spin when he successfully used it to recover his wife’s stolen phone How to Track and Locate Your iPhone Using Location Services You can track your iPhone and share or find its location using the iPhone Location Services feature. We show you how. Read More  a while back.

Unfortunately, the feature requires an active Internet connection in order to work, which means an in-range mobile data connection or recognised Wi-Fi network. Once your phone goes “off the grid”, the thief could plug it into a Mac or PC, restore using iTunes and begin using it again as if it were new. This would remove any trace of you as the phone’s owner, and thus render Find My iPhone useless.

This all changes with a new feature called activation lock, which prevents your phone or tablet from being tampered with while the Find My iPhone feature is enabled. Disabling the feature requires authentication in the form of a password, and once the rightful owner has noticed their iPhone is missing they can trigger Lost Mode from iCloud.com to display a custom message like this, indefinitely:



Even if you lose your device and it has no Internet connection, a thief cannot (in theory) restore the firmware within iTunes without seeing this message:

Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! restore iphone lock

Assuming the thief is a little smarter than your average “gimme your wallet and phone” punks that patrol your local mean streets, they may try to put the iPhone into DFU mode and restore using this method. Well, they’ll be out of luck when the phone finally reboots when they see this screen (which also works if you initiate a remote wipe):

Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! activate iphone


In essence, Apple has done their best to render any stolen iPhone running iOS 7 completely useless. Like any security feature, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks it, but here’s hoping Apple can stay one-step ahead and keep thieves at bay. In the grand scheme of things, this is more of a deterrent than it is tracking feature. If someone steals your iPhone, you’re still missing an iPhone. If they turn it off or the battery dies, you can’t track it any more either.

Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! disable fmip2

However you can take solace in the fact that the thief can’t use your phone. That, however, does raise a new issue for users thinking of picking up a used iPhone.

Used iPhones & iOS 7

Even if a thief can’t use your phone they can certainly try and sell it to an unsuspecting third party. Luckily, you’re already reading this article so you’re one-step ahead, and there are a number of things to look out for when picking up a used device.


Craigslist or similar face-to-face sales can be relatively safe provided you ask to see the phone first. Don’t just settle for the box, or an iPhone that isn’t powered-up. Don’t let the seller tell you that “the battery just died, but it works fine!” – in fact if you do hear that line, run for the hills and scream bloody murder.

Should the device be on, and working, the first sign something is amiss will be the “This iPhone Has Been Lost” message you can see in the screenshot above. If that’s not present, ask the owner to unlock the phone using their passcode (if they can’t, run). Head to Settings > iCloud and check whether the device is connected to an iCloud account. It will say at the top of the menu, like in the screenshot below:

Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! icloud settings2

You can then also scroll to the bottom of the screen and check whether Find My iPhone/iPad is on. If the iCloud account is still connected and the feature hasn’t been disabled, you will want to head over to Settings > General > Reset and get the seller to Erase All Content and Settings before you hand over any money. This requires the linked Apple ID password be entered, and you should explain that without the phone in an “as new” condition from a software point of view, it’s useless to you (or anyone).


If your seller cannot enter this password, or refuses to erase the phone and its contents for you before you hand over the money then you should walk away from the sale altogether and look elsewhere.

Internet Sales

Internet sales carry a considerably higher risk factor as you cannot see the device first. A user might even ask for more money to unlink their Apple ID, if they decide to play a game of blackmail. Worst case scenario they don’t even have the password to the linked account, so you will just end up losing more money with no gain.

There’s actually no way of ensuring the used item you’re buying isn’t stolen, and the only thing you’ll have to go on are the standard practices when making potentially risky Internet purchases: gut instincts and seller reliability. Unfortunately, these are not foolproof and people will get burned. That said, avoiding sellers with little to no feedback, particularly vague item descriptions or unusually low Buy It Now prices will help you avoid a costly mistake.

Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! reset iphone

If you are selling an iPhone that’s been upgraded to iOS 7, it’s worth noting that you should Erase All Content and Settings under Settings > General > Reset which will remove all traces of your Apple ID, photos and other sensitive data as well as removing the Find My iPhone link.

Be Careful

You don’t need to do anything to enable activation lock, it’s a feature built into Find My iPhone. As long as that feature is enabled under iCloud settings, your iPhone will automatically be linked to your Apple ID. When selling, you should delete all your personal information using the above instructions. When buying, you should be especially vigilant.

If you do buy a device that’s linked to another Apple ID that you cannot remove, Apple will not help you recover it. Food for thought.

What do you think of Apple’s improved security in iOS 7? An effective deterrent? A second-hand nightmare? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. Teresa L
    January 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I purchased an Ipad mini three years ago for my handicapped son. Like an idiot, I did not note the apple ID that my other son used to set it up. He accidentally locked it and even though I have sent Apple everything they requested to remove/release the activation lock; they still refuse to help. Every time I meet their demands of items required; they simply change the requirement.

  2. Shade M
    November 17, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Such overkill in my mind, I like find my iphone and the ability to remote wipe and locate your lost or stolen device. That said this now creates problems for a lot of good people who haven't stolen anything instead have possibly made poor purchase decisions or inhereted an older relatives device, Its innocent situations such as these that leave me wondering if everyone should be viewed and treated the same. With the choice to accept your loss as looking for options find apples black and white policy has rendered countless legally acquired (expensive) devices useless on the grounds "they could have stole it" I cant help but assume top Apple account holders see it more like, "Great, luckly now they have to buy a brand new one instead everybody wins..." This isn't a personal situation or vendetta I just get tired of thieves and criminals setting precedent for important governing policy's in concern to the general public. Now watch I'll need to use the service.

  3. Dennis Gonzales
    August 20, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Hi,my ipad4 has been stolen.Iwant to disable my stolen ipad but i forgot the IMIE no. or serial no. becouse ive already lost the box of my ipad.Is'it possible to disable my ipad with the use of apple ID that I use to it?

    • Tim Brookes
      August 23, 2016 at 2:56 am

      Hi Dennis,

      It's possible — just login to iCloud.com with your Apple ID and password, click Find my iPhone, then in the list of devices you should see an option to activate Lost Mode or even wipe the device. It depends on the phone's access to the Internet of course, but it's your best bet at this stage.


  4. Craig Ferguson
    June 9, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    I activated find my iPhone on my iPhone 6plus then I erased all the data but I still have the account on my find my iPhone can someone still get into the phone ?

  5. Shenah
    March 9, 2016 at 4:41 am

    how can i know that my stolen iphone is already reprogram ?

  6. Eddyville
    February 22, 2016 at 2:01 am

    I am personally gonna sell it for parts before I give it back to the person whom it was stolen from. They don't care that I got ripped off by the thief why should I care if they got ripped off. Just seems as if thier are numerous victims. The original owner who lost his idevice, the 2nd hand buyer who lost out on what he thought was a legit purchase and so on and so fourth if the sales continue... more victims .... I am glad it gives you peace of mind that someone else is possibly getting duped, or that if your idevice does get stolen it will simply be used as parts in numerous devices. A thief doesn't care if it works as long as they get a couple bucks they are happy, giving it back to the original owner is the last thing happening which as stated previously leaves two winners... APPLE. ..and the thief who sold it for parts or to the next victim

  7. Anonymous
    June 29, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I have had an iphone 4s on IOS 7 returned to me with the requirement to unlock the device, I have inserted my apple id one of the only two id's used on the device and the one that it was initially set up with and it still doesn't work. Why is this?? it recognises the id but say it cannot use it at this time.

    Anyone else come across this issue??

  8. Tim H.
    April 4, 2015 at 1:14 am

    I'm looking at a new, still in the shrink wrap iPhone 6 on Craigslist. I would ask to meet at the nearest AT&T and have them confirm the IMEI is clean. My question is, after it is deemed clear, what is to stop the person I bought it from reporting it stolen to collect on the insurance? Once I purchase it, is there any way to prevent this? Thanks in advance for any information.

    • Tim Brookes
      April 6, 2015 at 1:54 am

      There's nothing to stop the person doing this aside from the fact that insurance fraud is illegal, and anyone caught doing so will probably end up with a nasty fine or worse.

      All you need to know is that the device is not stolen or locked to anyone else's Apple ID. You can't reasonably be expected to account for anything more than that.

  9. Zak kio
    April 3, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    It makes Apple more money. Apple did this to get people to buy new ipads and not second hand.

    • Tim Brookes
      April 6, 2015 at 1:51 am

      Apple doesn't need to pull tricks like this to get people to buy iPads, in case you hadn't realised. The iPad sells itself.

      From a consumer point of view, Activation Lock is a great bit of protection to have on your side.

  10. Jeff
    March 20, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Why assume I'm one step ahead since I'm already reading this article? I only found this because my friend already effectively bought a used iPad wich is now blank but has the activation lock, and he now cannot reach the person who gave it to him. I think he still doesn't quite understand why he cannot reset and use it, kept telling me to leaf power off so they won't trace in case it was stolen but of course it would already be traced to this point before the factory reset. But it is more upsetting to be just plain useless while also not reported as lost or stolen at all. Nobody at all to contact. We simply have no way to reach somebody who locked it with their Apple ID so nothing but a brick for everyone. Nobody wins.

  11. simon
    March 17, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    As said before always make sure any second hand device is completely cleared from icloud,activation lock before purchase and sign in with your own apple i.d before handing over your hard earned cash,if seller/scammer wont reset it then walk away :)

  12. Noemi Sia
    February 26, 2015 at 5:21 am

    i paid big time for that ipad! then what?i cant use it because they are asking for apple id by the first user! i cant locate the first user because i just brought this from pawnshop!and the bad thing is, they dont have considerations to us 2nd user! im disappointed! i just throw my money! i used it for only 3 months! as i reset it, there it goes the shitty apple id.. my apple id that i used here before is not acceptable!they want the apple id of the first user!! frustrated here!!!!!!!!!feel like crying evrityme i remember it! :'[

  13. Anonymous
    February 23, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    february 23 2015

    I bought the iPad new from a store a few years ago it died on me this week tried to restore it now can't reactivate it because i can't remember the password i gave to the salesperson who set it for me at the store. this is different than a stolen one but leaves me out in the cold .any sugestions

    • Tim Brookes
      February 24, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Are you referring to the Apple ID? Or the passcode?

      If you're trying to disable Find My iPad (also known as Activation Lock, the thing that stops you restoring an iPad to factory settings if it belongs to someone) then you need only enter the password you input when you buy apps.

      If you never buy apps, then you'll need to recover your Apple ID password. Find out which email address you signed up with by going to Settings > App Store and looking for the email address there. Then go to https://iforgot.apple.com to start the recovery process.

      Once recovered you will be able to input your password and reactivate your iPad. If the iPad has already locked you out, it should automatically let you know which email address the device is locked to. Something like "please input the Apple ID password for bla@bla.com" – that's the email you'll need to recover from.

      If this doesn't work (and it should, unless this isn't actually your iPad) then you can try calling Apple to manually reset your password. They will ask you for some information like last numbers on credit cards, stored addresses and so on which only the rightful owner of the device should know.

      Good luck, let us know how it goes.

  14. Emily
    January 22, 2015 at 12:18 am

    quite amazing, but I just bought an iPod 5 for a pretty low price, I asked her if she can ask the previous owners to contact me but she said she tried everything, sold it to someone, to someone, to someone, to me.. I don't know what to do and at this point I want it fixed

    • Jeff
      March 20, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Sounds like your problem is that it is fixed. As opposed to changeable. Somebody along that line of ownership has not released ownership claim. For you it is like giving someone money to buy a car, but not making sure they sign over the title.

      When fairly young I bought a car from a small dealer (paid with personal check). Had it over 10 years before trying to sell and found out I never owned it: I failed to make sure the title was transferred. Not finding any papers we didn't even know what they gave us, maybe a form I needed to mail. Point is you have to find out what to do before it's too late because they won't award it to you for your ignorance.

  15. Jamie Hamlin
    December 28, 2014 at 2:08 am

    I bought a iPhone 5 from a girl and could not activate it because it was stolen. After threatening and posting the sellers name on local social media she had a friend of hers give me my money back. I took a pic of the screen with the MEID number hoping to be able to track the actual owner and tell them who has their phone. Who should I call?

  16. Chrissy
    December 27, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I think we should be glad people are finding glitches on the iPhone, so that if we do happen walk into a problem such as bypassing the Apple ID we have an easy solution. However, I do understand some of these precautions are for safety.

  17. david porter
    December 20, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Nightmare! My daughter set up my son's iPad a few years ago and now cant remember the id/password she used. The ipad has had a software update,repair and now we cant unlock it. Not a big success. Its going to turn into a new samsung later today and move to spend its last days in a recycling bin!

  18. Eric Rotmil
    February 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    A great antitheft feature working well apparently, but it create a new dimension for scammers.
    People can sell you a device (ipad,iphone) then remotely esrase your device (DISABLING IT) and try to get it back for free even invloving the police . I buy cracked screen ipads brokenguy.com . I usually can't check if the device has been reset, potentially I can be stuck with alot of paperweights.
    After the sale most sellers couldn't be bothered to help you ,
    kind of like the house owners that lose their house to the bank pouring concrete in the plumbing draIns
    Its buyer beware , make sure you:
    1. Get a a copy of their original receipt . get a bill of sale from them to you.
    2. See if youcan input your itunes account and sync with itunes, then verify your itunes account and make sure its in your "manage devices" list
    Not taking wise steps to protect yourself you could end up with a disabled device, or worse have the police asking you questions and making you return the device to the registered owner for free.
    Ebay is flooded with locked ipads and assorted locked phones.
    I don't know the statistics, certainly don't want to be included in that #
    I appreciate this website's info

  19. Jessica
    February 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Well I hope this rings true, because my iphone 5 was stolen last night at target. I just thought, "omg, I live in the heart of silicon valley and people still attempt this." Now I know people are the same everywhere. To the scumbag that stole it, good luck. I will be tracking it and reporting to local authorities. Any other suggestions? Post-stolen iphone 5 that is ...

    • Tim B
      February 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

      You've definitely done the right thing, notifying authorities, tracing via iCloud – did you have any joy recovering the device?

    • jessica
      February 24, 2014 at 1:40 am

      Tim, unfortunately I was not able to recover my device continued to be offline and turned off for the last few days. However, I love that there are ways to black list the device from all networks with the IMEI number. Sadly, Authorities cannot scale on these types of cases because there are tons and really can't do anything for you. I can tell you while I was at my carriers store there were a lot of people that had their phone stolen lately. Big surprise to me to hear of so many.

  20. Laurie
    February 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Unfortunately I bought the phone from someone on Craigslist and paid cash for the phone :( I do have an email address and name from which the seller was writing to me from. I don't know if that would help the police any. I haven't seen the screen that requests a password. I never got past the initial set up since I needed to enter a SIM card. I didn't want to enter a SIM card here in the US because I needed the phone to remain unlocked so my husband could use it internationally. I was afraid that putting in a SIM card in the US would somehow lock it to a US carrier. I'm not sure what the man from the cell phone store overseas saw to make him know we need the Icloud password. My husband says the phone is giving him a message to connect through ITunes. Do you know if anyone has been able to Jailbreak IOS7 yet? Thanks!

  21. Laurie Arias
    February 19, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Unfortunately I am reading this too late. I recently purchased a used Iphone in the US to send to my husband overseas. I was assured the phone was unlocked and given a good IMEI to check. When I checked the phone, I did not see any of the screens that appear in the screen shots above. I was given the start up screen to choose country and language. I sent the phone to my husband and he was told that the phone was locked by icloud and would not be able to be used without the password from the original owner. The guy I bought the phone from will not return any of my emails. Apple says this phone is in Lost mode. I am out $400 for the phone and another $175 for the Fed Ex shipping to my husband. Wish I had read this first :(

    • Tim B
      February 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Bad luck Laurie, though it's probably not going to help, you're certainly not alone in making this mistake. How did you purchase the iPhone? Was it through eBay? Did you use PayPal?

      PayPal's buyer protection should protect you if that is the case, as the item is clearly not as described. eBay could initiate a fund reversal, he'd lose his money and I'm not even sure you'd have to give the phone back.

      Secondly, is there an email address displayed when the phone asks you for a password? Just to let you know, this is probably the genuine owner's email, and I'm guessing they wondered where their phone had gone. If things do work out, you could always try to return it.

      Failing that, pass any information you have to police/the service you used. If it's Craigslist or similar then often there's little that can be done.

      Good luck

  22. Mahindar
    February 12, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Hey Tim
    This IS Mahindar From Mumbai.,,
    I was abt to purchase an Second Hand Iphone5s From a near by market
    I am Wondering if its a stolen piece as when the guy whe switch on the the device it read as " Iphone IS Disabled" then he told me to wait and the connected the phone to a pc by holding the home button and after some time the device started to work
    He told me to that after i purchase i need to create an apple id to use it and may need a WIFI connection to finish the setup
    I am not a tech savy but was finding somethin very fishy
    Phone looks v neat and the seller told me that this phone is of abroad and he want to sell it for a bargain price
    i am reallly not getting should i go ahaed with the deal or what steps should i observe to crack this deal

    • Tim B
      February 12, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Mahinar,

      That sounds suspicious to me, especially if he is offering you a very good deal. It sounds like the phone may be stolen, so you should be very careful.

      Check under Settings > iCloud to see if the phone is logged in with an existing Apple ID. If it is, ask the seller to log out for you. If he's genuine he'll have no problem doing this because he knows the required password and it only takes 5 seconds to do. If he won't do this then it's very likely that the phone is locked to someone else's iCloud account, and it's only a matter of time (i.e. when you reset the phone) before it becomes a bit of a brick.

      Good luck! Be careful, always be 110% sure of what you are buying. If it sounds too good to be true... it probably is!

  23. Anonymous
    February 11, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Find my iPhone is great, but the whole Restore activation is useless. What's the point in keeping people out? It's not like I'm the only one who can wear my shoes. And there's not even any contact any formation by default on the activation page to help a lost device get back to the owner anyway, so what good is it really? Also, what if a casual tablet consumer buys an iPad, sets it up, and figures..."hey I can find my iPad using iCloud? Sure I'll enable that", but doesn't know to log in to untie it from their iCloud account if they resold it?" It almost seems like a scam locking innocent buyers out of their new gadgets.

    • Tim B
      February 12, 2014 at 1:25 am

      If I had my phone stolen, the point in keeping someone out is to deny them that which they took without my permission. If you operate on principle, this is enough justification for the feature's existence.

      Once triggered (usually by the thief when they try to reset in iTunes) Activation Lock displays an email address and a password field. The password must match the email address. This email address is an excellent point of contact for anyone who has "found" a phone and would like to return it to the correct owner.

      Furthermore, the Lost Mode feature on iCloud.com lets you put a message on the phone too. This could be used to convey further contact details with the aim of recovering the phone. There's plenty of opportunity for the thief or jilted buyer to attempt to return the item.

      Buyer beware is the advice given, and it's the same when buying anything second-hand. As a buyer it's up to you to ensure the goods are in a condition you're happy with before you purchase. If buying on eBay, buyer protection helps. When buying in person, you simply should never buy an iPhone or iPad which the seller cannot unlock or de-register from iCloud.

      So no, it really isn't a scam into locking second-hand buyers out.

  24. Philippe
    February 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I have an Ipad I have been using for almost a year now, still on IOS 6. I bought second hand and suspect it might have been a lost/stolen ipad. Probably not but maybe. Do I risk having a useless ipad when i update to IOS 7 if indeed it was stolen?

    • Tim B
      February 6, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      No, there's no risk. The technology was only introduced with iOS 7, so provided the iPad is currently linked to your Apple ID (under Settings > iCloud) then you have nothing to worry about.

      • Jill
        October 9, 2016 at 12:55 am

        Untrue, I bought an ipod touch 5 when it was on ios 5 and used it successfully, even was able to activate Find My Phone, worked fine including with update after update till I got to IOS 9.3.5 and suddenly, after hours on the phone with Apple, they inform me that it needs original owner's info to be unlocked. I even proved that an hour ago it was hooked to my Find My Phone but they do not care and I cannot find previous owner from 2 years ago... wish it would have happened back then before he moved. He had signed in with me and wiped it clean for me, so I know it was a legal buy. Apple should at least have a publicity campaign to encourage previous owners who sold their devices legally to go sign it out of their icloud now because they changed the rules!! This has really turned me against Apple, I will not buy another device from them.

  25. Ali
    February 4, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    It's a handy feature i love it! about a week ago someone stole my iphone, i put it in a Lost Mode, i just wanna know
    1.Lost Mode is the same as Activation Lock? or should i wipe it remotely to Activation Lock be enabled?
    2.I don't know how he/she connected it to the internet because i deactivate my SIM cart due to further charging and wifi connection needs wifi password which he/she could not access it through the passcode. have any clue how that happened?
    3.i saw the video, the first thing i did after that incident, changing my Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook(and deauthorized the iphone session) passwords so he can not access it to send a reset link.
    4.i found the location but he/she turn the phone off, i put it in erase mode now till it connected to internet, does anyone know if he can do any resetting or anything the same between Lost Mode and Remotely Wiped?

    • Ali
      February 6, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      no one can answer my questions?

    • Tim B
      February 7, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Hi, sorry I missed your comment first time round.

      1) Provided your phone has iOS 7 and was logged into iCloud when you lost it (which it probably was, as you could access it from iCloud.com) then Activation Lock is working.

      It will show up when the thief tries to connect to iTunes and it asks him for your password. Even if you had no passcode on your phone, when they try to change the Apple ID associated with it they'll be stuck. As you have activated Lost Mode, the phone requires your iCloud password be entered to work at all any more anyway!

      2) No idea how that happened. Maybe the SIM wasn't disconnected immediately? Also note that by disconnecting the SIM, you may have severed the last link to the phone, but at least you stopped the thief's network access.

      3) Good, well done. It's unlikely you'd need to do this, but at least it's one less thing to have to worry about. Remember to never use the same password twice, at least for your important Gmail/Fccebook/Twitter etc.

      4) If you remotely wipe the phone, that will simply remove all of your data. It won't change the way the phone currently operates, which is not at all because you've put it into Lost Mode and he doesn't have your password.

      Essentially, the phone is useless to the thief. They might try and sell it to someone, or maybe if you're lucky try and get it back to you.

      Good luck. Notify the police with your IMEI, phone numbers, etc... and hopefully you might see the phone again. At least you know that the scumbag who took it can't use it though :)

    • Ali
      February 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks Tim, the feature is awesome, he could never use the phone anyway and that makes me feel less sad :)
      i have one more question, i activated touch lock for my itunes too, if he somehow duplicated my finger print, he could use it for apple id request or not?! i'm worried about that ...

    • Tim B
      February 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      You shouldn't need to worry, particularly if you managed to Remote Wipe the phone as that information has now been deleted. Even if it hasn't been deleted, the phone is completely useless without your password now.

      Good luck, sorry to hear about your phone being stolen.

  26. CINDY
    January 26, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    i purchased an ipad 4th generation on ebay last November I was bidding on several different ipads trying to get full size screen for my son, he is always wanting my mini ipad even after I purchased an android tablet for him last year he is 7 yrs old and I thought if I could get an ipad that maybe needs work or fixed in some way because I am a DIY fixer to save money that is how I got my ipod touch 4's for my older son and myself and I saved at least 175.00, so I did notice the person I bought it from has been selling for years and still the ad very vague and I did make the purchase knowing it was listed as for Parts only. anyway when I received it I couldn't believe it was in perfect new like condition then I started reading all of the people that have the activation lock on theres as well. So I decided I would try and find out if it was in fact Stolen or quote on quote found and sold for parts only, to me when it is in immaculate condition. So here I am still trying to find out if this thing is stolen if it is I would love to find the owner so I could personally give it back to him or her, why should I tear this beautiful ipad down and sell it for parts when it is so obvious that it has to be stolen and I just don't like bad carma I am honest and work very hard to keep myself and my two children up with technology, and it would make us so happy to find the person this belonged to and if it isn't in fact stolen get the thing out of paper weight status and activate it. so if you read this and can help me figure out how to find a list of serial numbers of stolen ipads or just any better way of finding out what I need to for contacting previous owner please email me at desertmom39@yahoo.com with your helpful ideas and suggestions. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP. CINDY

    • Tim B
      January 28, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      I would say that it's very likely the iPad is stolen, if it appears to be in perfect condition aside from Activation Lock. I'd urge you to contact eBay and tell them that the seller is selling blatantly stolen goods – though don't expect miracles, after all eBay stand to make money from such transactions.

      As for finding the original owner... well that's highly unlikely isn't it? I suppose the only thing that would give anything away would be an inscription, and even then how would you go about finding the person.

      Even if you turn it in to the police as "probably stolen" they're going to give it back to you with no owner coming forward (with proof/an Apple ID that fits) - so from this standpoint, I guess you might as well tear it down?

    • Tim B
      January 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Actually just realised... doesn't the iPad display a "enter the password for " when trying to turn it on?

      You could try and email this person letting them know you have their iPad – I'm sure they'd be overjoyed!

  27. Rrink
    January 25, 2014 at 4:36 am

    This is the exact same thing that happened to my sis she thought it was a good deal because it was a few off the retail price and of course i told not to and not because of this new activation thing i just think apple products are completely over priced to what a phone is now-en-days and now with this. we will hopefully see less of them and people will stop making such a big deal and finally come to realize how much of a waste it really is. i mean being honest the only reason their were so many around was because they were mostly second hand. people that bought them off the streets or internet. stolen or not we pay good money for them its not our fault, yes their is a risk A RISK APPLE MADE when purchasing these goods. I don't know who this TIM B guy is ( Don't really care) but he somehow forgot to mention that. and these unfortunate owners have insurance on their new expensive phones if it was stolen or simply lost; if they stole it from your car and broke a window your covered most auto insurance will cover it and if you don't have insurance basically because you know you already spent to much on a iPhone well its just like TIM B said its A RISK.
    Now if you'll all excuse me i need to go make an I Cloud activation thing for my IPad

    • Tim B
      January 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      The "risk" is really a safeguard. It's in place to protect legitimate consumers, not second hand buyers or thieves flogging goods on eBay. Yes, there is a legitimate second hand goods market, and yes, there's always an element of risk involved. This goes for iPhones, iPads, power tools, cars, diamond rings – the list is endless.

      The words "buyer beware" have never rung more true. It is not Apple's fault, it is the fault of those who deem it necessary to steal others' belongings. The knowledge that my iPad or iPhone is as good as useless to someone once it has been stolen is of great comfort to me, and it should be to you too.

      In order to make sure your iPad is protected, make sure "Find my iPad" is enabled in your Settings > iCloud menu.

      As for Activation Lock... is there an email displayed when trying to turn it on? Perhaps contact the legitimate owner and attempt to return the item? You never know, there may be a reward or something.

  28. el
    January 13, 2014 at 2:38 am

    You live you learn.
    If you buy an used iPhone or iDevice , meet at a Starbucks or public place with WiFi, do a full reset than activate the iDevice with your iCloud credential. and finally exchange the $

    P.S. if the vendor cannot reset the device with original owner iCloud credential run as fast as you can or actually call the police and report the stolen device.

  29. kyle
    December 30, 2013 at 5:25 am

    I bought and Iphone today from a guy off craigslist, He unlocked it and everything before I gave him the money, but he didnt take his current service off the phone.. This fucker isnt anwsering my calls or text and I was wondering if I might be able to take it into a sprint store because it is cdma and see what they can do about it. Not to mention this guy has a past due balance of 500$ on his bill, I did a phone call to sprint and they told me that right away before I could talk to anyone.

  30. Sue
    December 13, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I've just sd my iPhone 4s. But the new owner can't use it as it's giving her part of my email add and wanting my password . She has been in to a phone shop and asked her to ask for my apple password to unlock it . What should I do ? Hasn't my account got my bank details on ?

    • Sally
      December 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Sue, you need to log into your iCloud account and remove the device from your list of devices. Don't give her your password, but DO remove the device via iCloud as soon as possible, as it's not fair that you took her money and she can't use it.

    • Sally
      December 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      Here are the directions via Apple:

      If the previous owner is with you and can access the device
      Ask them to enter their Apple ID and password on the Activate iPhone screen (shown above) to remove the device from their account. You can then proceed through the rest of the device setup process.

      If the previous owner is not present
      Contact them and ask them to follow these steps to remove the device from their account:

      Sign in to their iCloud account at http://www.icloud.com/find.
      Choose the device from their Find My iPhone device list by clicking All Devices and selecting the correct device.
      Click "Remove from Account" to remove the device from the account.
      After the device has been removed from the previous owner’s account, turn it off by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button located on the top right side of the device. Then restart your device and proceed with device setup as you would normally.

      Source: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4515?viewlocale=en_US

  31. Brendan
    December 8, 2013 at 12:26 am

    So we bought iPAD2's for a few employees that have since moved on, I know have 3 iPAD2's at this activation lock.

    I have proof of purchase the Apple guy even remembered us buying them but still says nothing they can do..."they are paperweights"

  32. bad apple
    December 7, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I refurbish phones and purchase a lot online.These can be customer returns from stores etc.A checkmend report is run on each phone to check if they are stolen.Spent time and money replacing faulty parts to find out once working phone is locked to apple id.Seems Apple want to sell more New phones and want to put the second hand refurbished dealers out of busness.Apple look after number 1 themselves.

  33. Pedro
    December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    and for an Ipad, how can I do to activate it without the apple ID cause I don't know the apple ID

  34. Anonymous
    November 26, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Thnx for the explanations Tim. First thing people need to understand is that if Someone steals your phone then your data will be immediately wiped clean and, let's face it, for most folks it's not about the phone, but the data. Activation security is purely about creating a deterrent to the thief and I for one think it's a good thing but it will also KILL the used iphone market for Internet sales. I'm not really sure if anyone (not even the mighty A) should have the right to do this without offering a buy-back plan. I, for one, am really sorry I upgraded to IOS 7 and know that very soon it will be a waste of time trying to sell my 4S on ebay because there is know way for the buyer to check the phone prior to payment.

    • Tim B
      November 26, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      While it's possible that the introduction of Activation Lock will indeed have a negative knock-on effect for the second hand market, I don't think it's going to destroy the market entirely. I've not heard tales of this becoming a serious problem yet, and I'd hope that someone like eBay would adjust their policies (item not as described, item stolen etc...) in order to accommodate a widely celebrated thief deterrent.

      I don't think installing iOS 7 is a mistake if you're going to want to sell your phone in the end. Someone will buy it locally, or you could simply be a good example to the rest of the second hand market and sell it honestly by removing your credentials before sending it on to the buyer. The more people who sell genuine Activation Lock-free second hand iPhones, the more faith the rest of us can have in humanity :)

  35. Byte-Sized Solutions
    November 14, 2013 at 2:37 am

    iOS7 is a joke in my opinion as it is purely a risk-adverse business strategy to conform to the highest liked aspects of their competitors' systems. Apple is creating a guaranteed revenue stream in the market by attempting to control aftermarket sales. I professionally repair smartphones and I must say that I have had numerous users just sell me their old i-device because they were so disgusted with iOS7. Also, to comment on the aspect of theft... you really should check the aftermarket listing prices for parts (LCD, Camera, Speaker, etc...) on the iPhone 5 and 5C/S. You could easily sell off the individual parts and make almost just as much money with no trace-ability.

  36. Andrew Long
    November 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Thx Tim. Luckily my company have found another loan phone for me so the shiny brick becomes their problem. Popped into my local Temple (sorry, that should have read 'Apple Store') yesterday & the nice guru (sorry, 'guy') in the blue T Shirt couldn't help so he booked me a support call. The nice guy in the call centre also couldn't help however another guru suggested there was a back door to this & you just have to convince them you're genuine or corporate. Interesting my company's supplier have also been told there's nothing that can be done. Well, as long as the new loan phone works, it's somebody else's problem now! I agree that from a theft deterrent POV it's a good thing, but think it's an own goal from a corporate/B2B angle. Thx for your interest.

    • Tim B
      November 12, 2013 at 1:11 am

      Interesting that Apple would put a backdoor in there. It makes sense of course, but from what I've read and been told they won't unlock any phones. Presumably big business is different, particularly given the popularity of the iPhone among the corporate lot now.

      Glad it's all sorted now! :)

  37. Andrew Long
    November 8, 2013 at 8:13 am

    I've got a loan phone from my company while mine is off having its screen replaced. It looks like the phone was previously linked to an iCloud account (which is perfectly reasonable) but the previous user didn't do a full reset before they returned it. So I am stuck with the Activation Screen loop of hell. They suggested connecting the phone to iTunes via the USB cable while holding the Home button down, which prompts an iTunes message saying 'iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode'. This worked and it did a S/W update of its own accord and prompted a reset. I did this but when I booted the phone up again, I got the dreaded Activation message again! There appears to be no way to progress from the initial setup/activation screen to get to any normal menu. I've bounced it back to my company but they're dragging their feet & in the meantime I'm minus my phone - any ideas?

    • Tim B
      November 9, 2013 at 3:31 am

      Hi Andrew,

      I'm afraid that's down to the company who loaned you the phone. They should have checked such things before handing the phone to you, and you should return to them for a new replacement phone or the password required to unlock it. It's essentially a brick until they do unlock it, put it that way.

      I do feel for you at the moment, but I must also say that I'm rather pleased that Activation Lock works quite so well. Not pleased for your misfortune, just pleased that all the things you have tried (that a thief would try) have failed. Also the fact that it isn't technically your phone (it's temporary) makes it easier to admit that.

      Get in touch with the company, tell them it's no good and that you need a phone, cross your fingers. There's nothing to can do to remove Activation Lock, so I'd recommend going for a nice walk or reading a book rather than wasting time on message boards looking for a solution :)

      Good luck!

    • Anonymous
      February 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Hi Tim

      Lost my iPad. Was wondering if the bastard that found my iPad did a recovery mode on it would I still be able to locate it?? I was reading everywhere and couldn't find a correct answer, most of the people said that once that person does a recovery/ reset on the iPad the previous owner would not be able to locate it anymore. Just wanted to know if that were true. Thanks!

  38. Mark
    November 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I wish I had read this today before buying an ipad mini from craigslist. I currently have an ipad mini that wont let me activate. It shows the apple id that is linked but it only displays the first letter with 5 asterisks following @yahoo.com.

    Apple needs to change this because honest people like myself can't activate a purchased item if we can't contact the original owner.

    Frustrated today.

    • Tim B
      November 9, 2013 at 3:36 am

      Apple won't be changing it though, because it's received widespread support from police and other law-enforcement. It works very well. I do feel for you, but like with so many second hand purchases the words "buyer beware" ring true again.

      You should definitely try to get hold of the seller and get that unlocked. You want to hope that the seller is the owner of the iPad in the first place, and not a thief who has sold you stolen goods. Buying stolen goods, regardless of activation lock, is always a risk when buying online.

      In future always ask to see the item unlocked and working, and before handing over ANY money always ask for a full Erase and Reset under Settings > General > Reset. This will unlink the device from the Find My iPhone program and remove activation lock. If the buyer is unwilling to do so, walk away. Every time.

      Good luck.

  39. Anonymous
    November 2, 2013 at 4:14 am

    For all u ppl there is away to get pass that jailbreak it then it will work

    • Anonymous
      December 4, 2013 at 4:03 am

      You idiot, no jailbreak is available yet

  40. Lundy
    October 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I just bought second hand iphone 5 running ios 7.0.3 from someone in cheap price! For several minute which i've changed the sim card and active it said "this phone current linked to ID .... please call to ....."
    What should i do?
    How about the internet sales?
    please reply me, email leng.lundy@gmail.com

  41. Ericsprojects
    October 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Glad I searched for the definition of DFU mode. I had a whole different idea. Maybe it's a sign I do too much tech support and think all users are DFU.


  42. Anonymous
    October 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    yes it has been hacked there is a youtube video showing how it can be done but the thief has to be just a little smarter than just your normal snatch and grab this activation prevention is a nightmare for your average user considering that you almost never have to remember a password anymore all your devices remember for you and buying second hand phones is almost as big of an industry as buying new ones a lot of people are going to be scammed and a lot of people that get their phone back are going to be in just as bad of a place if their phone is swiped by a tech savvy thief and the thief is caught for their phone will be usable to even them here is the video that shows how to do it [Broken URL Removed]

    • Anonymous
      October 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      What is the YouTube link. I've purchased a used iPad, with a receipt but it's now been locked.
      I've been scammed and have paid money and now have a locked iPad!

    • Tim B
      October 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

      That video is not the be-all and end-all you seem to think it is. It also has NOTHING to do with Activation Lock being "hacked" – Activation Lock is the technology that prevents your phone being used without an Apple ID password. This technology is still very much secure, even after resetting the phone, even after DFU wipes. I have an article going up very soon describing the flaws in the video, but the short version is that it relies on a fingerprint being left on the device and the thief being able to a) extract it and b) create a convincing copy, neither of which are very likely.

      Disabling touch ID unlock removes the vulnerability entirely, plus a little bit of common sense (watch for the upcoming article for more info).

      And if you really think that remembering passwords is not important then you are creating a nightmare situation for yourself, and you really need to look into a password manager like KeePass, 1Password or Dashlane to generate and store secure passwords.

      The average user absolutely needs to have access to their passwords, regardless of devices remembering for you. I also suggest using two-factor authentication on your "master" email account (i.e. the account you use to recover your other passwords), else you could lose the keys to your life.

  43. Dug
    September 27, 2013 at 10:12 am

    But what happenes if I dont lock my phone via icloud? Can they still run DFU mode and wipe it?

  44. Dee R
    September 25, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I lost my iPhone 5, iOS7 last weekend. It is off the grid. It is registered with "Find my iPhone". Can someone do a DFU restore and wipe all my info. will the iCloud be able to find it?

    • Tim B
      September 26, 2013 at 12:10 am

      They can't use it no. If you sign in to Find My iPhone (at iCloud.com), can you put the device into Lost Mode? If so, do so as soon as you can because when the phone reboots/reaches a network again it will display a "This phone is lost" message along with a number of your choice.

      If a thief has tried to restore it, they will get the white "Activate iPhone" screen above which calls for your Apple ID & password. Till they supply this info, the phone is useless. They might try and sell it, but they can't use it.

      Keep us posted about what happens. It sucks when you lose a phone, but at least there's an additional layer of security there now.

  45. Dee R
    September 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I lost my iPhone 5, iOS 7 last weekend. It is off the grid.
    I registered with "Find my iPhone". could they do a DFU restores and sell it?
    Could they erase all of my info?

    • Anonymous
      December 23, 2013 at 3:28 am

      i stole it

  46. shelagh
    September 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    i know for a fact that it can be hacked as i know someone that has done it to one phone already.

    For that reason I believe it will be a nightmare for the average user that doesn't understand basic computer skills as TONY up above has stated.

    • Tim B
      September 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      You must be mistaken, because the Activation Lock feature has yet to be circumvented by anyone. I'd be very interesting in seeing any source links you have that claim to confirm it, because I've looked and found recent news articles about prosecutors praising the technology, rather than it being found insecure.

      There has been a lock screen bug that allows access to the phone with the right combination of taps and swipes, but nothing to circumvent activation lock which bars your phone from being accessed should you lose it.

      Personally I doubt ensuring a phone is wiped clean and "as new" is beyond the grasp of average users. This is a feature put in to protect consumers, and Apple has done it in their typically simple way. It's activated with iCloud and deactivated when the phone is reset to new condition. Pretty simple!

  47. Tony
    September 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Second hand nightmare. Many users (usually parent/grandparent types) can barely even check their email, and this nonsense is WAY beyond those types of folks.

    • Tim B
      September 22, 2013 at 12:42 am

      I don't think I'd describe it as "nonsense" when it's a measure put in place to deter thieves and in essence protect iPhone owners. Sure, it makes buying second hand a bit more risky but buying a second hand anything is risky. Buy a second hand iPhone running iOS 6 and the old owner could phone the major telcos and issue an IMEI block, for example.

      Beyond "make sure the device is wiped clean before you buy it" I don't think there's much more advice anyone needs to memorise here. The key is in the simplicity of the OS itself where pretty much every function is accessible. To say many users can barely check their email is a bit harsh, and from experience I'd have to disagree.

    • rekha
      December 31, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Tony, I don't think its a nonsense altogether. For those of us, who shelled out 800 bucks to get the iPad air 128MB (top of the line) and then unfortunately, had the misery of having it stolen by some lunatic, this feature does offer some consolation. I lost that expensive piece, but knowing for a fact that I have my 'FindmyIphone" turned on and that my iPad can't be used unless my user id and password are known, gives me a little consolation. That, that rotting thief is just having an expensive piece of brick on his hand and can't proceed any further than that, is comforting to know. of course I did include the message and my phone number to reach when I issued a remote sip from my iCloud, but I am not keeping too much hopes on him being a saint and getting it back to me.

  48. BeyondtheTech
    September 21, 2013 at 5:21 am

    During the beta, I downgraded to iOS 6.1.4 on my iPhone 5 and was surprised that I was prompted with a similar iCloud activation prompt that I could not get past without authenticating.

    Apple still is signing 6.1.3 and 6.1.4 for the time being, which allows DFU restores for compatible devices, so the faster they can close that, the better.

  49. Lau
    September 21, 2013 at 5:09 am

    What if the device is JB? Would you be able to use the phone?

    • Tim B
      September 22, 2013 at 12:35 am

      I don't know because iOS 7 hasn't been jailbroken yet. The chances that someone is working on an exploit right now are very high, though how successful they will be remains to be seen.

      I for one hope the jailbreaking community fails miserably at circumventing this!