3 Sneaky Signs You’re Buying a Tech Product That’s Been Used

If you're going to be laying out serious cash for the latest tech products, the least you can hope for is that it's new—right?

When Rebecca Beach’s son opened his eagerly awaited PS4 box only to not find the anticipated game, she was less than enthused. “My son wanted a PS4 really bad for his birthday so I saved up enough money and went to purchase it. When he unwrapped it, there were used circuit boards and other scraps inside. I was horrified,” Beach said. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence among tech buyers. Here’s how to stop the cycle:

Crack the code

High tech products like computers and phones are easy to track with their specialized codes, noted Mazepress founder David Alexander. To find out if the product has already been registered, check the product series code, which is the barcode assigned to each product, or the IMEI number online. iPhones, for example, have a warranty period after it’s first registered, Alexander said. If the warranty period has already begun, then you might have bought a used product.

Reckless wrapping

Resellers and eBay businesses have become savvier, Alexander notes. They have begun re-wrapping products in new cellophane to create the illusion that the product is unopened, he said, when it might be an ex-display model or a refurbished product. These sellers know how to get what they want.

“The telltale sign is usually in the quality of the wrapping. If it doesn’t look like it was done by a professional business and has some odd corners in the seal, then you might be holding an item that has been opened and then re-wrapped,” Alexander explained.

Watch the weight

For Beach, she learned to make sure the factory seal was in place and to pay attention to the weight of the product. “The box did weigh quite a lot, more than it should have now that I think about it,” Beach said. But, ordering tech products aren’t the only things you need to be careful about online—here are 10 other online scams to be aware of.

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Isabelle Tavares
Isabelle Tavares is a journalism graduate student at the Newhouse School of Syracuse University and former ASME intern for RD.com, where she wrote for the knowledge, travel, culture and health sections. Her work has been published in MSN, The Family Handyman, INSIDER, among others. Follow her on Twitter @isabelletava.