What to do if your phone is stolen or lost
Smartphones are our beloved companions. There are few things, aside from keys and our phones, that make us turn back if we leave them at home. As a matter of fact, our phones have become an integral part of our lives to an extent where we can’t imagine our day without it. They hold our memories, secrets, pictures, correspondence, friends, banking details, fitness programs, and more.
But what if you get your phone stolen? Or lost? You’re out in a bar and you realize it’s no longer where you left it. Or forget it in the backseat of a cab. If you lose your phone you still have some chances of finding it. Not the same can be said about a stolen phone. That moment you realize you might never see it again… So, what to do if your phone gets stolen or lost?
Notify your carrier
Your network operator can suspend your phone’s service. This prevents unauthorized use of your line. By letting your carrier know your phone was lost or stolen, and disconnecting the service, you also make sure you won’t get one last huge bill at the end of your monthly service cycle. If you’re in the US, here are the emergency numbers:
- AT&T Customers: Suspend your service from your account, or call 1-800-331-0500 to suspend your service immediately. Our system will recognize your device as stolen and block that device from use on the AT&T network within 24 hours.
- Verizon Customers: If your device is lost or stolen, suspend your service in My Verizon immediately. You can also dial 1-800-922-0204 from any phone.
- Sprint Customers: If your device is lost or stolen, contact Sprint immediately at 1-888-211-4727 to suspend your service.
- T-Mobile Customers: Log-in to My T-Mobile immediately to suspend your service. You may also call Customer Service at 1-877-746-0909.
Track your phone
Both Android and iOS allow you to track your phone, just in case you misplaced it. Granted, you have to have the option enabled. Android Device Manager and Find My iPhone can be used to track its location, or most recent location if it has been turned off.
Notify the police
If you are sure you had your phone stolen, and not lost, it might be a good idea to call the police and report the theft. While chances are relatively small for the police to help you recovering your phone, your phone’s insurance policy (if you have one) might require you to file a police report.
Ring, Lock, Wipe
The same Android Device Manager and Find My iPhone services can be used to ring your phone, in case you misplaced it, so you can find it. Lock your phone to protect it from unauthorized use. Worst case scenario: wipe it to at least ensure your data is safe. Additionally, carriers (like T-Mobile), and manufacturers (like Samsung) also have services that can locate or wipe your smartphone.
Chance your passwords
All your passwords. From email to social media, from mobile banking to your dating app. Everything! In case someone manages to bypass your phone’s security, you don’t want that person to be able to access your accounts, or, even worse, lock you out of them.
The key to successful recovery of a lost or stolen phone is prevention. Even if you can’t get your phone back, prevention is key for securing your data, and rendering your phone useless to the one who has it in possession. Follow these steps to limit the damage generated by a lost or stolen phone.
- Use strong passwords on your accounts
- Enable two-factor authentication every time the option exists
- Set up a strong screen lock password
- Use an additional layer of security (like fingerprint, face unlock, iris scan, etc.)
- Make sure your phone has the auto-lock option set to a relatively short amount of time
- Additionally, you can also set up a SIM PIN
- Enable location services that allow you to track your phone’s location
- Have regular backups of your data
- Store sensitive information offline (on a computer, thumb drive, external hard disk, etc.)
- As convenient as it might be, don’t save your passwords and other sensitive information in your browser
Additionally, use common sense with your phone, just as you would with your wallet and keys. Keep it on you at all times when you are in a place where you might lose it or someone could steal it.
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