The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number is a unique 15-digit serial number for identifying a device and every mobile phone in the world has one. These IMEI numbers are stored in a database called the EIR (Equipment Identity Register), which contains information about all valid mobile phone equipment. This is because the EIR’s job is to check that every phone call, or SMS sent, is from a mobile phone authorized to use a mobile network, which it does using the IMEI number. So, if you have a working mobile phone that is connected to a mobile network, then your phone is already registered.
The IMEI number reveals details about a phone without having to physically have it, including the brand and model, year of release, and other specifications. For this reason, your insurance company, or new phone provider, may want to know your IMEI number to create an insurance policy and your new mobile operator may need it to unlock the device from your old provider.
However, the primary reason that IMEI numbers are important is their ability to help track down and secure lost or stolen phones. For instance, if you were to have your phone taken but knew your IMEI number, you could report the theft to your mobile operator, give them the IMEI and they would then block the phone. This means that the criminal would not be able to use it, even if they put in a new SIM card, as the device itself gets blacklisted. What’s more, if the thief takes the phone to a mobile recycler to exchange it for money, the company will always check the IMEI first to see if the phone has been reported as stolen.
If completely necessary, the police can also use the IMEI to locate where the phone last made a connection to the mobile phone network. However, this is normally only undertaken to locate missing people and understand the calls that were made from their devices, in order to track their movements.
How do I find my IMEI number?
The easiest way to check IMEI on your phone is to dial *#06#, after which the number should appear on your screen. If you have a dual-SIM phone, you’ll see two IMEI numbers — one for each SIM slot. It is a good idea to write down your IMEI number and keep it safe in case you need to report it.
You can also easily find your IMEI number by looking in your settings.
- On an iPhone go to General –> About –> IMEI
- On an Android go to About Device –> Status –> IMEI
However, if your screen is not working it is also worth noting that some devices, such as the iPhone 6S and later, for example, also display the IMEI number on the SIM tray and others, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10, show the IMEI number on the back.
If your phone has been stolen but you forgot to write down the IMEI, there’s still a possibility you may be able to find this number if you kept the box that your phone came in. This is because, in some cases, there will be a sticker on the outside packaging that lists the IMEI number of your phone.
Does my IMEI contain Personal Data?
The point of the IMEI is to identify the device – not the user. The information IMEI provides is added when the phone is built, meaning it doesn’t include any information about the name or address that the phone is registered to, or the number on the SIM card.
Will you be writing down your IMEI number in case your phone is stolen? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you found this post helpful check out our others on similar topics: