After a string of cell store robberies and incidents a local provider is warning residents of buying phones from unofficial sources.

Glenn Kiddle, President of Big Rock Communications, says often stolen products will end up on Kijiji or other websites, which means consumers could end up spending hundreds on a phone that doesn't work.

"You may think it's legitimate, they might be meeting you somewhere, but you might end up with a phone that doesn't work and you wont know it until you try to activate it."

Kiddle says stolen phones are difficult to activate as they can be flagged, through find my Iphone, the Google equivalent, or the National Registry of Stolen Phones.

"When a phone is reported through one of the major carriers it's serial number is flagged, and put into this data base that all carriers check when you try to use them on their network. If the serial number is in the data base it won't work on any of the networks in Canada."

He says if consumers wish to purchase phones off of strangers, he recommends getting the seller to meet you at a store of whatever provider you use to ensure it is clear to use and will work.

If you can't make it to a store, there's other options too.

"If you can't go to your provider to get help to make sure the device will work, at least have a SIM card ready and put it in the phone and try it. Make sure the phone will work before you take the phone, even if the signal strength comes on make sure you can make a call, because if you can't there's a possibility that it's locked."

Kiddle says if the seller is unwilling to meet you at your carrier's store, or let you test the phone with a SIM card it's best to walk away from the purchase.

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