Sometimes it can be easy to be confused between the terms Locked and Blocked.
In this article SIMsurprise explains the difference between Locked and Blocked with a particular emphasis on Blocked.
If your handset is Locked this is usually associated with being tied in to, or committed to, a fixed term contract.
When you enter into a contract, as opposed to Pay As You Go, networks often supply you with a free, or heavily subsidized, handset in exchange for you committing yourself to using their network for a fixed term, for example 12, 18, or 24 months.
The cost of the handset is recouped over the duration of your contract.
In certain circumstances you can unlock your handset, and/or, SIM card so that you can move to a different Network provider.
For more information on unlocking your mobile phone, our article Unlocking Mobile Phones explains in detail what is required.
If your handset is lost or stolen, in order to prevent unauthorised use there is a procedure to have the phone Blocked.
To Block a handset your phone handset IMEI number needs to be passed over to your network.
Your handset IMEI number will then be placed on a register - a blacklist database - of lost or stolen handsets.
While your handset IMEI number is on this register, or database, the handset is rendered useless.
The register, or database, is often referred to as the Equipment Identity Register, or alternatively the IMEI DB - International Mobile Equipment Identity Data Base
Any phone listed on this register, or database, cannot subsequently be registered on a different Network, or used on the Network that you were using.
This register, or database, may not apply if your handset is subsequently taken out of the country that the handset is currently registered in.
Your handset IMEI number is sent out by your handset every time you make or receive a call, so simply changing the SIM card for a different SIM card is not a successful way of circumventing the fact that the handset is reported as lost or stolen.
For more information on IMEI and phone identity, our article IMEI And Phone Identity goes into more detail.
If your mobile phone is reported as lost or stolen to your network who Block your mobile phone which is subsequently recovered it is possible to have your Mobile Phone unblocked.
You will need to contact your Network Provider who Blocked your mobile phone.
Typically your network provider will need to undertake a verification process to establish that you are the legal owner of the mobile phone. Some of these steps will have been taken when you reported your phone as lost or stolen.
If you have made a successful insurance claim for the loss, or theft, of your mobile phone you will most likely need to also contact your insurance company.
A successful insurance claim could in effect mean that your insurance company has become the legal owner of your mobile phone.
For legal clarity it would be prudent to speak to your insurance company.
Unblocking your own, or any other, mobile phone by changing, or attempting to change, the IMEI number is a criminal offence except under specific circumstances.
Unblocking by changing your mobile phone IMEI number is also referred to as re-programming.
If you are planning to buy a mobile phone that is either offered to you for a low price, or maybe in questionable circumstances - such as someone you do not know and have just met in the pub - be cautious - the phone could be stolen or already reported as lost / stolen and blocked (Blacklisted).
Perhaps the seller of a top-of-the-range handset is offering you a bargain price - insisting on cash only.
In any of the above circumstances it has been known that while a handset may not be blocked at the time you buy it, a few days, weeks, or months later, an unscrupulous seller will report the handset as lost or stolen and will have the handset blocked - after you have parted with your hard earned cash.
If a deal seems too good to be true - the deal probably is too good to be true - follow your instincts!
There is a resource which allows you to check to see if property is already reported as lost or stolen.
This one resource is not specific to Mobile Phones - but does include a Mobile Phone checking option.
This resource is known as CheckMEND which is a worldwide database of millions of stolen and counterfeit goods - perhaps you would like to visit CheckMEND.
For the price that CheckMEND charge for a database search - currently £1.99p per search - this could be a small price to pay compared to spending a larger amount of money on a handset that, once you get the handset home, find is blocked and the seller has already done a vanishing trick.
A genuine seller will have no problem with either:
If a seller has, or appears to have, "an issue" with either of the above - again - follow your instincts.
This CheckMEND report will only be accurate as of the time the report is generated - the report, like yourself, cannot predict what the seller or current owner will or might do tomorrow, next week, or next month.
Locked means tied into a Network specific contract
Blocked means reported as lost or stolen.