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(Pocket-lint) - Apple has a new tool that can stop you from buying hot iPhones.

The iPhone has long supported a kill switch feature that renders the phone useless should it be reported as lost or stolen. While it's a handy feature for people who don't want strangers rummaging through their phone and data, it is a pain for people who are scammed when they unwittingly buy a used iPhone that has the kill switch enabled. They are ripped off; Left with a broken phone and less cash to boot.

But all that's about to change. A new tool - available through Apple’s iCloud website - allows you to enter an iPhone's serial number or IMEI (another unique identification number assigned to iOS devices) in order to determine if the kill switch feature, technically called Activation Lock, is enabled. The tool also supports identification numbers for iPad and iPod Touch.

Therefore, from now on, when you are buying a used iPhone through eBay or Craigslist, you should ask the reseller for the device's identification number before agreeing to buy. Resellers should have no problem sharing identification numbers (unless, of course, the iPhones are stolen and they don't want to be caught with hot devices).

Nevertheless, if you'd like to learn how to use Apple's new tool, as well as more information about Activation Lock, keep reading. Pocket-lint has detailed everything you need to know.

is the used iphone you re buying stolen here s how to check with apple s new tool image 3

What is Activation Lock?

Activation Lock is a feature that debuted alongside iOS 7, in an effort to help combat cellphone theft. It makes it difficult for anyone else to use or sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch should you ever lose it. Even if you erase your device remotely, Activation Lock continues to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission.

How do you set up Activation Lock?

1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
2. Tap iCloud.
3. Sign in with your Apple ID, if necessary.
4. Turn on Find My iPhone.
5. Activation Lock is enabled automatically when you use Find My iPhone.

Want to know more about Activation Lock?

Check out Pocket-lint's Activation Lock guide for more information about how the feature works.

How do you check Activation Lock status?

If you want to see if an iOS device has Activation Lock switched on, follow these steps:

1. Go to Apple's new Activation Lock page through iCloud.
2. Find the iOS device's serial number (check Apple's Support page for tips on where to find it).
3. Enter the iOS device's serial number in the appropriate field on Apple's Activation Lock page.
4. Enter the CAPTCHA to verify you aren't a robot.
5. Click Continue.

That's it. Simple, right? Now you never again have to worry about buying a used, stolen iPhone.

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Writing by Elyse Betters.