Picture if you will a harried Christmas shopper running to and fro’ searching for a bargain. A sign in the window of a local pawn shop catches their eye. “iPads – Second hand – Cheap” What an excellent Christmas idea. The shopper rushes in, carefully assesses the device to make sure it works and has all the necessary accessories, and gratefully plunks down $150 for an iPad with iOS 7. The device is taken home, cleaned carefully, and lovingly wrapped for Christmas morning.
Sounds like a Christmas hero in the making, and yet a crisis is on the horizon. Any Apple device loaded with iOS 7 or later is a ticking time-bomb. If the previous owner enabled the Activation Lock security feature in the device, theirs is the only Apple ID that will ever be effective for accessing it and making it operate normally. Oddly enough, this is not readily evident just by looking at, or logging into the device. It is possible to erase the 4 digit pass-code to get into the device. An unknowing original owner might erase this pass-code thinking they are clearing it for sale. In order to prepare an iDevice for resale it must be completely erased and restored to factory setting and the Application Lock MUST be disabled through Apple servers. The new owner will be unable to delete Apps or change settings until this is done. Most re-sellers will NOT tell you this. It is your responsibility as a buyer to make sure that the device has been properly prepared by the previous owner. Their Apple ID must be COMPLETELY removed and the device must be removed from their account on Apple’s servers before it can be registered to anyone else.
Apple designed this feature as an anti-theft device. Any stolen iPad, if properly locked, is completely useless to the thief and can not even be reformatted without the prior owner’s username and password. This is very effective for preventing theft, but also very annoying to the consumer who purchases one legitimately from a pawn shop or other second-hand re-seller, and is unable to contact the prior owner for the required information.
So buyers beware. Apple has created a web site tool that will allow you tell if a device is still locked. It can be found at the following tech site…
Be sure to check out any second-hand Apple products BEFORE you buy. Once purchased, there is absolutely NO recourse beyond contacting the prior owner. Apple will NOT help you other than to tell you what I just did.