Our phones contain a record of our lives. They aren’t just for texting and calling; they are really mini computers that contain our photos as well as our detailed personal information, passwords, financial and medical information and more.
If your smartphone ends up in the wrong hands, it can lead to people and identity theft. Also, phones can be very expensive to replace.
Steps to take after your phone is lost or stolen
If a thief has your phone, that person knows that you will try to recover the phone or clean it. So you want to act fast when you realize your phone is gone.
Follow these eight steps if you realize your phone is missing.
1. Call your phone
You may have simply misplaced your phone. Call your number and send an SMS. If the phone is within reach, you will hear it. Or if you misplaced it, someone can answer.
2. Login to find my phone on iPhone or Find my device on Google
For an Android phone, use Find My Device from Google. For an iPhone, go to Find My iPhone. Use these services to send a sound to the phone, show a message on the lock screen, or clear your phone data.
3. Inform your service provider
You want to notify your carrier of the loss. It may suspend your service until you locate your phone or buy a new one. Your operator may also prevent the phone from being used on their network. It can also mark the phone as unusable even with a new SIM card or if the phone is moved to a new carrier.
4. File a report with the police
You may or may not get your phone back if you file a police report, but you’ll need a record of the loss if the phone is used for illegal activity or you face fraudulent charges or identity theft.
6. Change your passwords
If a thief has your phone, that person can potentially access all of your personal information, including your passwords and security questions for the websites you visit. Change all your passwords and security questions.
7. Contact your bank, credit card companies and other financial institutions
Notify all major financial and other important agencies of the loss so they know your accounts are at risk. You can ask the bank and credit card companies to issue new cards.
8. Think about insurance
If you have coverage for your phone, contact the insurance company. Also contact your cell phone provider and see if they cover replacement costs. If you use a credit card to pay your monthly phone bill, contact the issuer. Some offer replacement coverage at no cost to you.
Steps to prepare your phone in case of loss or theft
Whether you have an Android phone or an Apple iPhone, there are steps you can take and adjust to certain settings to protect your phone. before it’s lost or stolen.
1. Make a list of important information
I keep a household inventory list that contains all information about every new device, computer, smartphone, and other items.
For a smartphone, record the place and date of purchase, purchase amount, phone brand and model, serial number, and IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) number . This article can help you quickly find your phone’s IMEI number.
2. Set Strong Security Settings
It is best to have as many security settings in place as possible. Using a password and biometric authentication is preferred. Biometric authentication involves using your fingerprint, facial or voice recognition to log into your phone.
Also use a strong password. If your phone allows it, skip the 4-digit PIN and instead choose a password that is at least eight characters long and contains a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Apple and Android phones will lock you out after so many failed login attempts. And both have a wipe feature that will automatically erase your personal data after a set number of failed login attempts. The feature is not enabled by default, so you will need to enable it.
On an iPhone, open the Settings menu > Touch ID & Passcode. Find the setting for Type and clear data and enable it.
On an Android, open the Settings menu > Lock screen > Secure lock settings. Enable automatic factory reset option.
3. Activate find my phone
When this setting is enabled, you can use a computer or other device to locate your phone if it turns out to be missing. For this to work, the phone must be turned on and connected to Wi-Fi or cellular. It can also report the last known location that was recorded as long as location tracking is enabled.
On an iPhone, open the Settings menu. Tap your name, then tap Locate. Enable Find My iPhone. You can also choose to share your location with friends and family and locate your device even when it’s offline. To find your iPhone on a map, make sure Location Services is turned on. This can be found under Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
On Android, open Settings > Security > Find My Device. Activate it.
4. Back up your phone
When you set up a new phone, you will be prompted to enable backup. Apple uses iCloud and Android uses Google Drive. Follow the prompts to activate the backup feature. On an iPhone, open the Settings menu, then tap your name. Then tap iCloud > iCloud Backup. On an Android, open the Settings > Accounts & Backup menu.
Losing a phone can be a scary and costly experience. If you follow these steps, you will have a head start in finding your phone or at least securely erasing your valuable information.