How much do you really know about a mobile phone when you are buying it secondhand? After all, if you stop to think about how many handsets are stolen every year, there's actually a fair chance that you could be purchasing stolen goods.
That's why Washington-based company CTIA has developed a new online tool called the Stolen Phone Checker, allowing users to check whether a used phone has been reported lost or stolen.
People simply need to fire up the tool and input their handset's International Mobile Equipment Identifier number.
The status of the device will be displayed straight away and users will be able to check up to five devices every day.
It's great for anyone who wants to find out about the history of their handset. But it's just as useful for anyone in the business of reselling mobile phones, as it drastically reduces the chances of stolen goods inadvertently coming on to the market.
While the service is only available in the US at the moment, we can only hope that something similar is rolled out in other markets over the years.
As CTIA states, the service “provides the wireless industry with the definitive, single source of real-time lost or stolen mobile device data”.
“Using multiple source databases, the Stolen Phone Checker helps consumers, commercial organizations and law enforcement agencies in the US to know if a mobile device has been reported lost or stolen,” the firm added.
Of course, another group who can play a big part in preventing stolen smartphones from flooding the market is consumers.
After all, a few basic precautionary steps could help drastically reduce the chance of having your handset appropriated by thieves and illegally sold on.
Thieves are typically opportunists, so they are far more likely to strike if they sense an opportunity, perhaps if a phone is left on a table, or a person has their handbag open and isn't keeping an eye on it.
Simply being aware of how you use your smartphone and where it's placed while you are out and about can make you much less likely to be targeted by thieves.
Another basic precaution is making sure it's password protected and locked, as it will be useless to any thief if they can't actually use it.
Change your password every few weeks and months, as people who know you could potentially guess how you've encrypted the device and gain access to it.
Smartphone users should also make sure that if the worst does happen, there's nothing too precious on there.
That means any content such as valuable family photos needs to be backed up, so even if your phone does get lost or stolen, you still have those all-important memories available.
Finally, don't forget to insure your handset, as it makes the process of replacing it far simpler and less costly if you misplace it or if you're a victim of theft.