6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Used Laptop
This article discusses some legal issues which you should consider before you buy/sell a used laptop.
1. Is it Genuine?
If you are going to be buying a fairly used laptop, then chances are you are looking to buy a laptop with a good and well-known brand, and therefore it is likely that it is still more expensive than a less well-known brand or a knock off. So, before you pay for a used laptop, you need to make sure it is genuine. The easiest way to do this is to look for the product code or serial number of the laptop, everyone must have one. Once you find this, go on the manufacturer’s website and search for the laptop using the serial number or product code, and then confirm that the specifications on the website matches the specifications of the one you are about to buy.
2. Has it been stolen?
Under Nigerian Law, it is illegal to receive stolen goods. So if you knowingly buy a laptop which is stolen, you are committing a crime and can be arrested and prosecuted. Even though you paid for it, the issue is that you were aware or you should have reasonably been aware that it was stolen. Apart from the real threat of being arrested, there is also the reality that if the real owner found it, they could take it from you. This is because of the legal maxim – nemo dat quod non habet, which literally means ‘you cannot give what you do not have’, so in this case since the seller was never the owner of the laptop and therefore did not have any original ownership title to it at the time of the sale, it means you did not acquire any ownership rights
So how do you ensure the laptop is not stolen? Well, there are different ways you can go about this. Firstly, ask the seller to show you the receipt (or some evidence) that they own it. If the seller says that he/she lost the receipt or that he/she was not given a receipt when it was purchase, then the next way you can protect yourself is to ensure there is an indemnification clause in the contract of sale.
3. Does it have a warranty?
This is important because one of the reasons you are buying a used laptop is for the brand and the peace of mind you get knowing it is genuine. If a laptop is genuine, it should have manufacturer’s warranty, and what that means is that the manufacturer of the laptop agrees to fix or replace the laptop if there are certain ‘factory defects’ with it. So you should ensure that the laptop has a manufacturer’s warranty. Although in most cases the warranty is only valid for a couple of years, and if the laptop you are buying has been used for a long time the warranty may have expired. So you need to bear this in mind as well.
4. Not a kidnap or robbery ploy
Unfortunately, in Nigeria we hear a number of stories of people being robbed or kidnapped and held for ransom. One of the ploys these criminals have begun to explore is to use offers to sell used items for a very cheap amount as a guise to kidnap people. The ‘seller’ puts up an advert for a laptop at a price that is ridiculously cheap, the buyer gets in touch, and they set up a meeting to exchange the laptop for the money. At the meet, instead of an exchange of money for the laptop, what happens is that the ‘buyer’ is robbed/kidnapped.
So, in any transaction for buying used laptops, especially if the seller is an individual and not a business, you should take steps to protect yourself and ensure your safety. Steps could include, ensuring you only meet at well-known and safe public places e.g. a restaurant or mall; ensure you go with someone or tell people the location of where the exchange will take place etc.
5. Not an IT threat
When you buy a used laptop, the first thing you should do is wipe all the data on the laptop completely. Nefarious individuals often use second hand laptops as a way to infiltrate the data of unsuspecting victims. What these people do is sell a laptop which has malware and virus embedded in it. This allows them to get access to the laptop remotely, and potentially steal your personal and financial data. In this day and age, hackers can not only steal your data, but can access the webcam and video of the laptop remotely, and there have been instances when this has happened. So it is imperative that once you buy a used laptop, you take steps to ensure that no viruses or malware have been embedded in the laptop. You can do this by installing a powerful anti-virus computer software, or by completely wiping out all the data and reformatting the computer hard drive.
6. Have a contract
Finally, when you do buy a used laptop, ensure you have a written contract. When we say ‘contract’ in this sense, we don’t mean you should have a 15-page agreement for a used laptop, what we mean is that you should have a piece of paper which states who the parties are, what the product is, how much is being paid, and the fact that the seller indemnifies you from any claim from a 3rd party who says they are the real owner of the laptop.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.