How to unlock your device using the previous owners Apple ID

If you have bought your device (iPhone, iPad, iPod) from a shop other than Apple, then it might be a case of the previous owners Apple ID still being stored on the device. This might, in turn, stop you from accessing all of the device’s true capability. Leaving you to miss out on some of the amazing features Apple provides. There is also another scenario as to why a person cannot access their device; they have forgotten their own Apple ID or password.

Things you should know before buying a second hand Apple device –

When you have your new Apple device, ensure that Find My iPhone is enabled. This will then also enable the Activation Lock. This is important and can be done from the website or

Once you’ve enabled Find My iPhone, the IMEI number or serial number will have to be entered, you can do this by:

Settings > General > About. This will help you to locate the IMEI or serial number for your device.

These numbers will also be located on the back of the device if you’re unable to find them in settings.

Being involved in a scam

Although, scams these days are never-ending, and these people could feed you any believable story. These are without a doubt people that have negative intentions and try to sell devices that are stolen or don’t belong to them. If they are caught, there is a potential they could be prosecuted, but many people aren’t caught, which is why it is vital to ensure the seller is present when you set up the device with your information. This is just in case the device asks for the previous owner’s Apple ID, they should be able to provide you with that information or enter it themselves.

If they are unable to enter those details (due to the device being stolen) or they have in fact forgotten them, the seller could have possibly switched the device status prior to delivery. This means that they may have turned the Activation Status off. For whatever reason, the assumed owner may have changed the status of Find My iPhone to back on just before turning over to the buyer. You will then be able to troubleshoot any problems that may occur and find out whether the sale is legit and legal.

To ensure things are made smoothly, you’d meet the unknown seller in a public place and ask them to erase all of the settings in your presence.  The following instructions will explain how this can be done:

Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings

If the previous owner/seller states that they aren’t able to be physically present, they can make a remote change. Please see the following:

Understanding Activation Lock 

When iOS7 was installed, a feature called Activation Lock was new to the Apple devices to make it difficult for a stolen iPhone to be sold and used. Once you have decided to set up your new device, you might get a message that presents like this:

This iPhone is linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password that were used to set up this iPhone (with login and password spaces).

If this message has appeared on your device screen, you must contact the previous owner/seller for assistance. You can only be assisted accurately if they are the former owner because they will have the information to change this. Apple are very strict about this policy; there are no other ways to bypass this feature. If you chose to ring Apple directly via phone or the Apple store, the customer services will explain this to you politely also.

Even if you have been informed that a Device Firm Update (DFU) will resolve access with another Apple ID saved in the phone, this is not true. The purpose of DFU is to keep track of the previous owners Apple ID and that information is then stored on Apple’s servers for access to the users on other Apple devices.

The previous owner of the device will be able to remove the lock from the device remotely. They can sign into their iCloud with their Apple ID on their own device and by using the ‘Find My Phone’ app on iCloud. The previous owner can then locate the device that is no longer in their possession and remove the phone or device.

Find My iPhone > Select the device > Remove from this account

What to do when you forget your own apple ID and password to your own device? 

We all forget things on occasions, and passwords must be at the top of the list of things people forget the most. Apple ID’s are no exceptions. You might find it necessary to remove Find My iPhone/Activation Lock from your device if you have forgotten. Follow these instructions if that’s the case:

Re-setting your Apple ID

You should always check to see if you’re already signed into your account on your device. You can do this by going into your Settings and it will be the first thing you see when you go on there.

If you decide to reset your Apple ID using the Apple website, try the customer support number, which can be found under the ‘Contact Us’ tab. You should provide receipts or purchase information to prove that you are the owner of the device, so be prepared for that.

Re-setting your password 

If it’s your password you’ve forgotten, you will be taken through two-step verification. To reset your password, follow these steps:

Go to your Apple ID account page and click “Forgot Apple ID or password.”

Enter your Apple ID, select the option to reset your password, then choose Continue.

Enter your Recovery Key for two-step verification (will be a trusted device).

Just remember not to make any hasty decisions and think things through before purchasing anything second hand, especially Apple products.

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