Lost an old deactivated iPhone 4S. Any options?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by kmichalec, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. kmichalec, Sep 2, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013

    kmichalec macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2010
    I had recently given my old 64GB iPhone 4S to my daughter to use as an iPod. It had no active cellular chip in it (just an old deactivated one), so it was essentially used as an iPod. Last week, my daughter lost it out of her pocket while vacationing in Virginia Beach (we are from Michigan and have since returned home). Much to our dismay, we immediately retraced our steps, but it was gone.

    So, I do know a few things:
    1. It had a passcode on it, so any info/etc is protected.
    2. Since it has a deactived cellular chip in it, I could only track it if it ever reconnected to a known Wifi hotspot (which hasn't happened since it was lost, as I activated lost mode in Find My iPhone), like the one at the hotel where we were staying, but we didnt lose it near the hotel.
    3. Because of #1, there is very little chance someone will be able to hook it up to a new wifi spot in order for lost mode to activate, so likely, whoever found it will just wipe it and reload it clean, meaning it's likely gone for good.

    My questions are:
    1. It was purchased from att a year+ ago, but was deactivated when I switched over my lines to Tmobile. Can I call att and ask them to put it on any type of blacklist or list where I would get notified if someone tried to activate it? I'm going to try tomorrow, but was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with doing this?
    2. Is there any universal blacklist that I can put it on? Maybe through Apple?
    3. Are there any other ways of getting a message to the phone, or any other ways of tracking it that I'm not thinking of?

    At this point, I'm pretty sure it's a lost cause, but just figured i would ask around, as there are some very creative people on this threads that have good ideas.

    Any help would be appreciated if any one has any other ideas that I haven't thought of.

  2. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    I'm not an AT&T customer, so don't quote me on this, but I believe you can give them the ESN of that phone and they will put it in their blacklist. That's shared with the other carriers so if it's in there and someone tries to activate it they won't be able to.

    Other than connecting to WiFi though there really no hope of tracing this phone down.
  3. dextr3k macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    By deactivated cellular chip, you mean there is no SIM card inside, but it still works as a phone right?

    The only way you would be able to trace it back is if the person goes near a saved wifi location while it is ON, or sticks an AT&T sim inside (I assume its locked) and turns it on without wiping. So it is most likely gone.

    You can call AT&T and say you lost the phone, assuming you have saved the IMEI number (ESN is for CDMA phones, like Verizon) and they will blacklist it on their network.

    All in all there is not much you can do for it, Apple will not help you blacklist anything, and if it probably has been sent out of country already.
  4. Lucille Carter macrumors 65816

    Jul 3, 2013
    All you can really do is move on. It is not like the phone was stolen, you lost it.

    Don't torture yourself over it. Even if locked it will sell for parts or make a great iPod.
  5. benji888 macrumors 68000


    Sep 27, 2006
    United States
    Do this. Yeah, you lost the phone, but if someone wipes it, puts a SIM in it and tries to use it as their phone instead of calling AT&T with the IMEI number trying to get it back to it's owner, it could technically be considered stolen at that point. Also, there is a way to get into the phone, if the person is a hacker and knows how (or even wants to), but, more likely, if someone finds it and takes it, they'll either wipe it and use it or just sell it. So I'd report it.

    As far as Apple is concerned? Maybe, if you have the serial number, you can report this and maybe they will keep it from being activated via iTunes? Not sure, but, you can only try.

    If you were near water, there's a chance it could be permanently damaged, if lost in the water, thus no one would be able to use it.

    This is one of those times you wish the new up-coming Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature was available now.
  6. kmichalec thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2010
    Thanks everyone for the feedback.

    I'm going to call AT&T and let them know, in case someone does try to activate it. I do realize that we lost it (it wasn't technically stolen), but I was more or less hoping that someone who was honest maybe found it, and would like to return it, if they could figure out who it belonged to. Guess I'm holding out hope (even a slim chance) that there are honest people out there, as I know if I found one, i would try to get it back to the owner.

    However, I realize it's most likely gone for good, and I really regret not putting in a working activated SIM now (even a PAYG one), just for tracking purposes. I was intent on it being too early to give my daughter working a cell phone, but now it's come back to bite me, as if I had, we might be able to track it/find it. And yes, I really wish the new iOS7 activation lock feature was on it already.

    Thanks all!

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