Making Sure a Used Mac Isn’t Stolen: A Comprehensive Guide

Back to the “Used Mac Buying Guide

Avoid the potential issue below by buying from these high quality sources:

When buying a used Mac, one of your biggest concerns should be ensuring that it isn’t stolen. Buying stolen goods is illegal and could lead to the device being confiscated without compensation. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you avoid buying a stolen Mac:

1. Request the Serial Number

The Mac’s serial number is a unique identifier that you can use to verify its legitimacy. A seller should be willing to provide this. If they hesitate or refuse, it could be a red flag.

2. Check Online Databases

Several online databases allow you to check if a device’s serial number has been reported as stolen. Sites like or CheckMEND allow you to enter a serial number and check it against records of stolen goods.

3. Use Apple’s Activation Lock Status Checker

Apple’s Activation Lock helps protect Apple devices in case they are lost or stolen. If Activation Lock is on, you need the Apple ID and password used to originally set up the device to erase and reactivate it. You can check the Activation Lock status of a Mac by restarting it and making sure you can get to the setup process. If you’re asked for an Apple ID and password during setup, Activation Lock is on.

4. Check for Proof of Purchase

Ask the seller for proof of purchase, like a receipt or invoice. While this isn’t foolproof, a legitimate proof of purchase that matches the seller’s details is a good sign the Mac isn’t stolen.

5. Meet at a Public Place

If possible, arrange to meet at a public place, ideally at the seller’s carrier store if they purchased it there. This can discourage thieves and also allows you to verify the device isn’t carrier blacklisted.

6. Trust Your Instincts

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. A significantly lower price than the market value can be a red flag. The seller being in a rush to sell or not knowing much about the Mac can also indicate it might be stolen.


Purchasing a used Mac can be a great way to save money, but it’s essential to make sure you’re not inadvertently buying stolen property. By checking the serial number, verifying Activation Lock status, asking for proof of purchase, and trusting your instincts, you can significantly reduce the risk of buying a stolen Mac. Always remember that it’s better to miss out on a deal than to lose money or get into legal trouble for buying stolen goods.

Scroll to Top