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How to Handle a Lost or Stolen Smartphone

How to Handle a Lost or Stolen Smartphone

May 31, 2024

One of the most stressful situations one can imagine these days is losing a smartphone—especially because it is likely connected to your banking apps, social media, images, and so much more. We’ll walk you through some tips you can implement to locate your lost or stolen device.

Retrace Your Steps

If you think your device is simply lost rather than stolen, you should try to retrace your steps to find it. Look at all of the places you have visited lately, or ask your coworkers, friends, or family. They might be able to help you locate your device. Search thoroughly—it sure beats going through the other steps in this process.

Use the Find My Phone Feature

If simply retracing your steps is not cutting it, you should use a phone finder app. For iPhones, you can use the "Find My iPhone" service, and for Android devices, the "Find My Device" feature can help you locate your phone. These services work by using the device’s built-in GPS, and they’ll make some sort of noise if they are nearby.

Secure Your Personal Data

If you can’t find your phone’s physical location, then you’ll need to assume the worst and take measures to protect your personal data. Change your passwords for important apps like email, social media, banking, and so on. If you have payment apps on your device, you’ll want to ensure that you also turn off their authorization by contacting the service provider.

Tell Your Service Provider

Your carrier has a lot of power in case of a lost or stolen phone. They can disable your SIM card and prevent anyone from making calls, sending texts, or using mobile data. They also might be able to provide you with resources that can help you either recover your device or secure your data from harm. 

Tell the Police

If you think your phone was stolen, you’ll want to do what you would for any other theft: file a police report. The police might not actively search for the phone, but you might need the report for the purposes of insurance or other claims.

Use a Third-Party Device Location Service

Sometimes a third-party phone locator service can help you find the device. These services are not necessarily built into your device’s operating system, but they can do all kinds of other nifty things, like taking pictures of someone who tries to unlock your phone. However, be careful and make an educated decision before committing to these services.

With these simple steps in mind, you can perhaps locate your lost phone or confirm that it has been stolen. In any case, it’s good to know which of the two you’re working with so you can protect the data found on your device. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and act quickly to keep this occurrence from becoming more problematic than it needs to be.

For more great tips and tricks, be sure to check back to our blog regularly.

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