The Communications Authority of Kenya has set up a simple process to help Kenyans verify the authenticity of devices they’re purchasing. With the increase in demand for smartphones, and with the constant launch of new products with incredible features, a lot of knock-offs and fake phones have flooded the market.
Sometimes these knockoffs are sold as if genuine, sometimes they alter the naming schemes, sometimes they are just weirdly branded and sold as new products. Ensuring that people don’t use such devices is important because they haven’t been tested, and neither have they been certified. Which means they can offer sub-standard quality, or even be security risks – accessing your personal information, sending it to the manufactures. Even worse, the devices can have been used to carry out illegal affairs, or at times be health risks because of the tech inside them not being certified.
In a bid to reduce the risks of Kenyans owning fake devices, the Communication Authority has a simple procedure for Kenyans. This should be done before purchasing the device, but can also be done after purchasing. So if you already have a phone, you can check if it is genuine.
Here’s how to check a phone is fake:
- Dial “#06# on the mobile phone to display the International Mobile Equipment Identifier IMEI number of the mobile phone.
- Note down the displayed IMEI number.
- Alternatively, if you cannot dial since the phone is still unboxed, check the IMEI number that’s displayed on the side of the box.
- Send the IMEI Number, as an SMS to 1555. This is a FREE service.
- You will receive an SMS response from the Authority displaying details of the mobile phone, including the make and model.
- If the details displayed in the SMS message are the same as those of the mobile phone used to send the text message and/or the one intended to be purchased, then it is genuine.
- If the displayed details do not match, then the mobile phone used to send the SMS or intended to be purchased is not genuine.
Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to verify this with an online purchase. You won’t be able to see the IMEI number of a device from a listing online. Hopefully, the CA is working to ensure all online retailers sell genuine devices.
The best solution currently remains this: only pay on delivery especially if you don’t trust the online seller. So that once device is delivered, before paying, check the IMEI number and send it to 1555. If it is genuine you can go ahead and pay.
Try out different IMEI numbers to devices you have in your house, or those owned by family and friends, and see how many counterfeit products you may have bought unknowingly.
Sidenote: I use the first IMEI number for my dual SIM devices. I think either works, but the Authority hasn’t stated if one should check on both.