Asurion Refurbished Phones May Cause Inability to Unlock AT&T Phones – On the trail of the unrequited​ IMEI!

Did you get a replacement phone from AT&T  or another carrier using phone insurance partner Asurion? You may be sitting on a potential device unlocking headache. I just wasted hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t unlock my “refurbished” S6 Active replacement phone. Since I met all the requirements the phone should have unlocked, but the AT&T system kept refusing.

After sleuthing about for two hours with AT&T customer service and going through the device unlock portal I have  a possible scenario while I await official confirmation. 1) broken phone is returned for replacement to Asurion 2) the previous owner of that phone has unresolved outstanding payments or contract requirements 3) the unique IMEI  passed along to the new owner may also pass along unfilled contract requirements. I suspect this could be the result of a data entry problem by someone at Asurion.

Device requirements for ALL requests

Devices must:

  • Be designed for use on, and locked to, the AT&T network. (Questions? See Device Unlock Support )
  • Not be reported lost or stolen
  • Not be involved with fraudulent activity
  • Have all service commitments and installment plans completed and all early termination fees paid in full
  • Not currently be active on a different AT&T customer’s account


I’m waiting for the resolution of this problem which hopefully will be in a  few days. If you own a refurbished device from AT&T (or another carrier) and meet the requirements for eligibility to have your phone unlocked, but are getting the same error, I’d like to hear about it. Let me know by posting a comment. And perhaps you should ask your carrier too!

I would assume that unpaid balance information (connected to an IMEI) from the former owners would be considered privacy protected information. On the other hand, Predictive Analytics are all the rage and knowing the aggregated profile of a smartphone holder default behavior (nonprivate anonymous information) could be interesting to other companies seeking to profile bad risks.

Update 7/22

Spoke to AT&T Customer Support person yesterday who had the presence of mind to escalate to his manager. Whenever I spot an up and coming outstanding customer support person I always ask to speak to his/her manager and tell them they have a good hire. Which I did.  Initial review of prior owner IMEI not showing outstanding balance.  It is still a mystery to AT&T and I am still inconvenienced.


One thought on “Asurion Refurbished Phones May Cause Inability to Unlock AT&T Phones – On the trail of the unrequited​ IMEI!

  1. I bought a Asurion replacement phone from someone at Craigslist. It was an S7 Edge. I put a tmobile SIM ans it is asking for a code which he does not.

    long story short, it’s been 3 weeks ans I have not been able to use the phone.

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