It happens (rarely). You buy a phone from a seller claiming that the device is fully unlocked, but when you try activating it on your carrier's network, you get "No Service." At Back Market, we work closely with our sellers to make sure that this doesn’t happen, but in the unlikely event that it does, here’s what to do.
Before we go a bit deeper into the subject, remember that things can change pretty fast in the world of tech. If you can't find what you need in our FAQs, please reach out to your seller at any time to get more information. You can reach them by logging into your Back Market account > My Orders > Ask for help.
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Verify if your phone really is unlocked
If you go to your carrier, and they tell you that your refurbished device is locked or even blacklisted, you can always double-check to make sure. There are several ways to check if your phone is really locked:
- Replace the SIM card
A common solution is to turn off your phone, replace the current SIM card on your phone with another carrier's SIM card, and turn your phone back on. If you see a message on the screen asking you for a SIM unlock code, then the phone is locked.
- Check your settings
Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Cellular Data Network. Some phones will display Cellular Data Network once you click on "Cellular." If you don't see Cellular Data Network, your phone is probably locked. Please note that this option isn't 100% foolproof — you may have an unlocked device but still not see "Cellular Data Network."
Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile networks > Mobile operators > Search Now. If the search displays multiple networks, then your phone is most likely unlocked.
- Check using your phone's IMEI number
To find your IMEI number, you can do the following:
Settings > General > About > IMEI (scroll down)
Settings > About Device > Status > IMEI
Alternatively, whether you're using an iPhone or Android, you can dial #06# then press call, and your IMEI number should appear.
Once you have your IMEI number, you can go to an IMEI checker site where you input your IMEI number and see if your phone is unlocked or not.
GSM vs. CDMA
A phone may be unlocked and still not work with your carrier. To explain why we need to lightly delve into some cellular tech history. US carriers have historically used two wireless frequency standards, GSM and CDMI. AT&T and T-Mobile have always used GSM, which is also the main standard used by most countries outside of the United States. Very few countries use CDMI, which was previously used by Verizon and Sprint.
If you happen to have an unlocked CDMA phone when you use a carrier that primarily uses GSM (or vice-versa) you may have connectivity issues. Before purchasing an unlocked phone, it’s wise to first check the specs to see which standard the phone works with and to also know which wireless standards are used by your carrier.
Contact your carrier
Once you've verified that your phone is unlocked and/or runs on the correct frequency, you can go to your carrier, and they’ll help you transfer your account to your refurbished device. Here's an article with links to the different major carriers as well as the MVNOs that operate in the US.
Okay, so my phone really is locked
First of all, we're very sorry for the inconvenience! If you've double-checked using one of the methods above, and it turns out that your phone really is locked, your best bet would be to contact the seller that sold you the phone on Back Market.
Sign in to your Back Market account and go to My Orders > Ask for help. The typical response time is 1 business day. If you don't hear back from the seller within that time, you can always contact our customer support center via this help form (we respond within 1 business day).