Unintentionally receiving stolen property is a real danger when purchasing a computer from a disreputable vendor, which can lead to all types of unwanted legal complications down the line. Fortunately, there are some fail-safe methods to ensure that the computer you are purchasing is not a previously stolen machine.
Purchase your computing goods only from reputable vendors, such as Dell, Gateway, HP, or any other well-known manufacturer of computing parts. Because these companies all manufacture their own computers, there is no way to purchase a stolen machine from one of these vendors.
Ask the seller to show you the ins and outs of the machine if purchasing a used computer from an independent vendor. He should be able to access the machine and all of its related areas without any problems. If the vendor seems tripped up by passwords that are present on the computer, the machine is likely not his property.
Search for the machine on an independent computer database tracking stolen computers, such as StolenComputers.org (see Resources). The seller should have no problem providing you the serial number of the computer if it is lawfully her property.
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