Should I give out my serial number?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by superspiffy, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. superspiffy macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2007
    A potential buyer is asking for my Mac's serial number so he can confirm the computer and warranty date. Should I give it to him? Would there be any sort of danger at all? I've never done computer trades before
  2. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    Yes. Put yourself in his position; how would you react if the seller of an item you were interested in reused to divulge fraud-proofing info? :cool:
  3. chipchen macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2002
    You make it sound different than it actually is.... I wouldn't be telling people my car's VIN over the phone if I was selling it... This probably falls somewhere in between.

    It's hard to say, ask if you can take a screen shot of the warranty page and blur the number. Or, if you feel like this is going to work out, just needs this info, you might as well.

    But... like they say, you can't ever be too careful on the net.
  4. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    he can do 2 things with it:

    1. Check warranty coverage at
    2. Scam some other guy on ebay into buying a fake mac from him by giving your serial number to the buyer

    He cant do anything to hurt you, its just a serial number to a computer.
  5. mrwizardno2 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 19, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    Honestly, if someone didn't want to tell me the serial to a computer I was going to buy, I wouldn't even think twice about passing it up. There's no way I'd buy something from some shady person who for some reason won't tell me what the serial number is.

    This also protects him from purchasing a stolen computer - you can check to see if it was reported stolen by the serial number.
  6. gonyr macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    Niagara County, NY
    Relax - it's a serial number, not your bank account. As a previous poster said, there's nothing the buyer could do with that information to hurt you.
  7. nhcowboy1 macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2008
  8. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    What I did when buying a used Mac was get the seller to take a screenshot of the SN in the "About a Mac" window, then when I met up to buy the computer I matched the SN on the bottom of the Mini and confirmed that to get that screenshot the computer 'did' work. Its minor, but it made me feel better.
  9. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    They could report the machine as stolen.
  10. eman macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2007
    In the great white north
    You'll be fine, it's done on ebay every day. Relax!
  11. intoxicated662 macrumors regular

    Feb 29, 2008
    I personally wouldn't give a serial # of a product I own out. I'd just sell through paypal to a confirmed&verified address to protect both sides. Then the person can check the serial # once they receive it and do whatever they want with the product. Although, taking a pic of the seller holding the item being sold with their name next to it could work too. If the serial # is blurred out then there really is no point because they could just take someone else's pic online and use it and claim it is theirs. You never know so it's a risk we all take.
  12. chipchen macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2002
    Nope... not exactly true. The wrong person with the right information could... setup repairs under that serial number (if they work at a service center), look up your personal registration information (if they work for Apple), etc.

    Now, these aren't likely to happen, and may not have direct consequences... but... I'm just saying... never say never...
  13. f1 macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2007
    The chances of someone doing harm with your serial number are slim to none but not out of the question, if i were in your position I would just give it to them, you'll look like a more trustworthy seller. Also just wanted to clarify that you cannot report a computer stolen to Apple, so the buyer would have no way of finding out whether the computer is stolen or not from the serial number.
  14. Aj2488 macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2007
    Chicago Suburbs
    Its probably not a big deal but if Aaron is right make sure you have proof of purchase just in case this situation does arise.
  15. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    It doesnt matter if they do or not, when apple doesnt recieve the computer they will cancel the service... if its even possible to do it in the first place with just a serial number.

    They cant victimize you by getting your computer's serial. Theres no way for them to order services that youll have to pay for and theres no way that they can take your serial and use it on another computer for apple care. Fraud is impossible here, the serial number has very little worth outside of sending your computer to apple to make sure its still under warranty, infact thats probably the one and only use for the serial.

    If serials were delicate information then they wouldnt be labeled on the outside of the case for everyone to see.
  16. zainjetha macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2007
    there is not much he can do with it apart from check the warranty status of product or try and use it to call apple support for another product and use up the AppleCare call support. Hopefully he wont do this.. just check the warranty for him online and save yourself the worry of knowing somebody has a confidential detail of yours.
  17. chipchen macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2002
    I don't think you quite understand what I'm saying. I never said they can make you pay for service. However, I'm stating what's possible. For you to say that "fraud is impossible" is really funny. Fraud is almost always possible. You, as the actual owner may not be affected, but Apple might.

    For instance, if I have a serial number to a computer under warranty, or under Apple Care, I can call Apple Care (possibly have to pay $50 for support if it's just under Limited Warranty and not AppleCare, but they waive this pretty easily)... and I can make up a story about how some DIY (do - it -yourself) part has failed, like a power adapter. So I'll have Apple ship me a replacement adapter, and I'll ship them back and bad one. You don't lose anything, but it's fraud and Apple pays the price.

    A second thing that can happen, is that someone sketchy that works for an Apple Service provider, can order a part under that warranty for someone else who's computer may not be under warranty. For instance, a hard drive. Again, Apple loses, not you.

    And then, lastly, and again REALLY NOT LIKELY, an Apple employee can look up your serial number, get your registered information (address, phone, etc, etc...). There are a million things that can be done with that info, both malicious and not. But since we're talking about the far end of possibilities... let's say they take that info, call your number, and say they're Apple. They want to remind you that your warranty is coming to an end and would like to offer you a special price on AppleCare. If you say yes, and they get your credit card info, that's that.

    SO... again, these are just possibilities. But they're really really not likely. And I've given several serial number out myself. But, decisions are best made when you've got all the info available... and if you just listen to people telling you that "fraud is impossible," then you need to be a bit more careful.
  18. nhcowboy1 macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2008
    "Use up" the Applecare call support??? :confused:
  19. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601


    Nov 19, 2007
    Georgia, USA
    Even though you can't report a computer stolen to Apple, you can still report it. I have a program (coconutIdentityCard) that lets you enter an Apple computer's serial number and it will let you know if it has been reported stolen. This program also works with iPod serials.
  20. Sweetfeld28 macrumors 65816


    Feb 10, 2003
    Buckeye Country, O-H
    Look up your coverage using your serial number, then take a screen shot of the page, photoshop out most of your number [leave some in], then send him the photo.

    easy as that.
  21. flyfish29 macrumors 68020


    Feb 4, 2003
    New HAMpshire
    But I can walk up to most any car and look in the windshield and copy down your VIN number!?!?

    To the poster who said they could report it stolen- yes, but they would have to have proof of owning the machine...I could report a car stolen with a VIN number, but I would have to have the title or other proof it is mine to own and find!
  22. soms macrumors 6502


    Dec 10, 2007
    Ya except he has it on record that he bought it.

    Just give him the serial #
  23. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    I meant fraud is impossible for the seller. I mentioned earlier that its possible for them to screw other people with your serial, it is not possible for them to screw YOU with your serial.

    There are tons of better ways to get your address information, and anyone is guaranteed to get your address info if he orders an item from you on ebay. What you are describing is like a billion to one chance and isnt worth even considering as a possibility.

    Is it scientifically impossible? No, its not scientifically impossible for the sun to explode tomorrow and destroy the earth either, theres probably like a 1 out of 900 trillion chance of that happenning. But it is logically impossible for anyone to screw you with your own serial, if it wasnt then it would be happening all the time since all people have to do is look on the back of somebody's ipod.
  24. nhcowboy1 macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2008
    Reported stolen to whom? Where would it have to have been reported in order to show up in that program?

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