Buying a used Mac from a shady-seeming source

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by thefuturewasyesterday, Oct 4, 2017.

  1. thefuturewasyesterday macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2016
    Hello. I'm in the market for a used iMac and Mac Mini at the moment, and I was recently in conversations with some guy to buy 'his' iMac. There were a bunch of red flags and holes in his story, and I decided not to go through with the purchase. But, it got me thinking: How should I go about ensuring that the Mac I want to buy is legit?

    Does Apple (or a former user) have the ability to lock down a computer if its serial number is reported as stolen? Is this something on-top of, or complementary to, the iCloud lock?

    The first thing that I plan on doing, regardless of my purchasing source, would be to boot from a USB stick containing an operating system installer (by pressing 'C' on boot-up). I would then erase the main/only drive on the computer using Disk Utility, and then I would install a fresh instance of the operating system. In this situation, would I ever run the risk of having my computer locked-down via Apple or the former user, in the future?

    Does Apple maintain a searchable database for blackballed Macs/iOS products?

  2. techwarrior macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2009
    It is not as tight of a control on Macs as it is on iOS, due to the disk access in Mac. I don't think there is a serial number level lock on Macs.

    As long as there is no firmware password and you can get to the disk utility in the recovery partition, you can re-format the HDD and then install a fresh instance of macOS.

    Best buying from a reputable source whenever possible.
  3. CrystalQuest76 Suspended

    Dec 14, 2015
    West Cost A Lot
    Always buy from a reputable source. Buying stolen products encourages theft and makes you an accessory to the crime.
  4. foobarbaz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2007
    You don't need an USB stick for that. Just boot with ⌘⌥R.
  5. deep diver macrumors 65816

    deep diver

    Jan 17, 2008
    Solon, OH
    Some questions answer themselves. Only by from a reputable source. It might cost a little more up front, but is probaby less expensive in the long run.
  6. macs4nw macrumors 601


    Your gut feeling saved you this time, but buying from strangers, although you can get lucky sometimes with a steal of a deal, always carries a certain risk if the seller doesn't divulge to you all that he should.

    Why not avoid all that potential headache and check out Apple's own Refurb Store. With their own stringent refurb and QC process, they offer as good as new merchandise with full warranty and the usual return privileges, while the products are also eligible for AppleCare. New items start appearing there, sometimes as early as three months after original release, and the discounts vary from 10%-15%, and sometimes even 20% or higher off the regular prices.

    Over the years I've personally bought multiple items from there, and have never had any problem, or been able to detect even the slightest flaw aesthetically or otherwise.

    This may not get you the 'steal' you hope to get, but it will give you peace of mind.

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5 October 4, 2017