How to Safely Buy a Used or New Phone on Craigslist for the Best Prices in Your Local Area

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You want the phone you buy to be in as close to perfect working condition as possible…for as little as possible. The next-gen iPhone user wants to get rid of the old version and grab as much possible money.

Depending on his or her desperation level, your negotiating will have to be fluid and flexible. Here are a few key things to ask/demand once you’ve found a potential seller to ensure you get a good deal.

Arrange to Meet in a well-lit Place

Seedy alleys are bad places to make the buy for more than one reason. Some lighter scratches won’t be visible in dim light. They might not even be a big deal to most, but if you’re picky, you can’t un-see something like that.

Request the Serial Number Before you even Consider Buying

This will help you verify the model number. You can go to Apple’s Service and Repair page to confirm the precise amount of warranty time left on the phone. (Given that the iPhone 4 came out during the middle of last summer, it should be a little over 12 months old at most) The site will also help you determine whether the phone has been flagged as stolen or missing.

Ask about Warranty and Included Materials up Front

Craigslist is not without its scammers and creepy sellers. Someone who can provide not only a receipt, but also the original box and all materials is likely not one of those people. If the warranty info you get from the serial number and the seller’s response don’t match up, that’s a bad sign.

Ask why the Seller is Selling

iPhone Day, duh! Even if that’s the case, knowing the reason(s) why someone is trying to get rid of their phone will help in the negotiating process. There’s a big difference between a gadget geek who wants to immediately grab the latest handset and someone who’s just looking to make a little extra cash.

Make Sure it’s Still Working Before you Head out

Kinda goes without saying, but sellers—in their infinite haste—often remove the micro SIM. Tell them to hold onto the card as you’ll want to give the phone a good test run.

Ask if the Phone has been Jailbroken or Unlocked

In most cases, doing a full restore will fix any potential issues associated with jailbreaking. But occasionally, this can create problems down the road and void that one-year Apple warranty.

Try to Arrange a Return Policy

This can be tricky because in essence you’re saying: “I don’t trust you.” A reasonable seller won’t be offended. In the event you don’t get what you were promised, you’ll want the flexibility to return it and get your money back. To that end, ask for a home address and phone number.

Find out What Accessories the Phone is Supposed to Come With

If this particular model of Android phone came bundled with a 8GB microSD card, make sure it is listed in the ad. Many users just want to keep their SD card to drop into another phone. They might include a smaller card, or none at all. You need to figure this into your assessment of the deal.

f you spend any amount of time searching for a phone, you will probably see at least one ad (usually a good deal too) listing a phone with the disclaimer “no back, no box”. You may think this seems like a great deal as you can find replacement backs for most Android phones online for a few bucks.

Do not under any circumstances take this (admittedly good) offer. The phones in these ads are stolen from stores that had the devices secured only by the back panel. Thieves can easily snap the back off, and walk out with the bulk of the phone. You just don’t want to get involved.