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How Do I Unlock My Device From a Previous Owner’s Apple ID?

There are two likely scenarios that a person cannot access their iPhone due to an Apple ID that does not belong to the current user of the device.

  1. It is possible you have purchased a device (iPad, iPhone, iPod/iTouch) from a source other than Apple, that the previous owner’s Apple ID is still stored in the device. It is VERY unlikely that the device will work properly for you in the manner it is meant to as long as another person’s ID is in it. You will never be able to activate the device in your name or Apple ID as long as this issue persists.
  2. You have forgotten your own Apple ID or Password

In this article we will attempt to assist you with dealing with this particular issue.

What You Should Know Before You Buy a Secondhand Apple Device –

When Find My iPhone is enabled, this also enables the Activation Lock (see below). It is important when considering a used Apple device to make sure that you check to see if the Activation Lock has been enabled. This can be done from the website https://www.icloud.com/find Or icloud.com/activationlock

The IMEI number or serial number will have to be entered. To do this, go to:

  • Settings > General > About (to find the IMEI or serial number for the phone)
  • You should also be able to locate these numbers on the back of the device

There is no question there are people out there that have nefarious intentions and are trying to sell devices that do not properly belong to them and have in some cases been stolen. The scams are never ending these days.They could feed you any story, including trying to sell a device online.

In these situations, there have been cases that the seller has switched the device status at that the deal is made (prior to delivery), to off (the Activation Status is off), and you use the link provided above and confirm the phone is open and the Activation Lock is not in use. Then, for whatever reason the owner may change the status of Find My iPhone to back on just before turning over to the unwitting buyer.

In the best case scenario, you can meet the seller in person in a public place (if you don’t know them) and ask the seller to be sure to erase the settings in your presence. This can be done by following these instructions:

  • Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings

You should also make sure the seller is present when you then set up the device with your information, just in case the iPhone or iPad ask for the previous owner’s Apple ID. That way, you can just have the previous owner troubleshoot any issues that might occur on the spot.

If the previous owner/seller just can’t be physically present, they can make this change remotely. Please see below.

What you should know about Activation Lock

After iOS 7 a feature called Activation Lock was installed in the iPhone to make it harder for a stolen iPhone to sold and used.

When you are setting up your device you might get a message that reads like this:

This iPhone in 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 you have gotten this message you must contact the previous owner for assistance. Only the former owner has the information to change this and can assist you. Apple is very strict about this policy; there are no other ways to bypass this feature. Even if you reach out to Apple directly via phone or an Apple store, the personnel will politely explain this.

Even a complete Device Firm Update DFU restore will not resolve access with another Apple ID saved in the phone. The purpose for this security is to maintain the previous device owner’s Apple ID. The information is stored on Apple’s servers for access to the users other Apple devices.

All is not lost; the previous owner of the device can remove the lock from the device remotely. The previous owner can sign into their iCloud with their own Apple ID (on a device of their own). By using the “Find My iPhone” app on iCloud, the previous owner can locate the device no longer in their possession and use, and remove the phone/device.

  • Find iPhone > Select the device > Remove from This Account

You Forgot Your Own Apple ID or Password, to Your Own Device

Sometimes there are situations that you might find it necessary to remove Find My iPhone/Activation Lock from your device and have forgotten your own Apple ID or password. If that is the case, follow these instructions:

  • Try Re-setting your Apple ID
  • If for some reason cannot re-set your Apple ID using the Apple website, definitely try their customer support number. You should be prepared to prove you are the owner of the device with receipt or purchase information

Just remember to make sure you have done your tech due diligence when making a secondhand Apple device purchase and don’t make any hasty decisions you may regret later.


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