Whenever we lose our phone, we panic. That’s the first thing we do. Whether you’ve misplaced it or it’s been stolen, you must act quickly to protect your sensitive data. People often lose their smartphones, and nothing holds more personal information than our smartphone itself.
The cost of your phone getting lost or stolen can amount to more than a replacement device. In some cases, it can cost you your identity.
Every day you add more personal information to your phone — from banking app logins and passwords to sensitive data, information, and photographs. Scammers know that your phone contains everything they need to steal your identity, empty your bank accounts, or worse.
If you think (or know) that your phone has been stolen, don’t wait any longer. Here’s exactly what you need to do now to protect yourself (and possibly even get your phone back).
What Can Happen If Your Phone Is Lost or Stolen?
The moment you can’t find your phone, you should assume the worst.
Phone thieves often go straight for your personal information after stealing your phone. They’ll try to access banking and investment apps, social media and email accounts, photos, and passwords.
They’ll change your passwords and lock you out of your email accounts so that you can’t get back in, while they run their schemes.
But what about phone locks?
Professional thieves know the exact moment to strike — such as when you’re walking down the street checking Google Maps for directions, and your phone is unlocked. Even if you have a phone passcode and enabled biometric security (like fingerprint ID), hackers can still gain access to your device.
And then what happens? With your phone, thieves can:
• Make unauthorized purchases using your linked credit cards and Apple or Google Pay.
• Access your passwords and login information for various accounts. (As many as 99% of people reuse passwords across business and personal accounts. So, if scammers gain access to your phone, they can potentially get into your other accounts.)
• Hack your email account and lock you out.
• Access your bank accounts or investing apps and wire out your savings.
• Mine enough personal data to steal your identity.
• Hack your Google or Apple ID and bypass two-factor authentication (2FA) on your other apps.
Run phishing scams targeting your friends and family.
• Use sensitive photos to blackmail you.
• Find out what places you visit and get details about your economic status.
• Open credit cards and loans in your name.
The list is endless…
Don’t panic and do the following steps in case of an unfortunate event.
What To Do If You Lost Your Phone
1. Try Calling Your Number Immediately When Lost Your Phone
The first thing you should do after discovering that you have lost your phone, call it from another number. Maybe you have not lost it yet; perhaps you have replaced it with someone’s phone or mistakenly left it at a store. If your phone is not on silent, you can still hear it and find it.
However, if someone picks up your phone after it falls from your pocket or bag, they may answer it instantly. So if it rings and no one answers, contact the generous assistance.
2. Lock Down Your Phone Right Away
It is always recommended for Android and iOS users to keep their phones locked with patterns, face-recognition lock, fingerprint, voice-recognition lock, passwords, etc. But you can also lock your iPhone remotely so that no one can access your private information. You can Activate Lost Mode on your iPhone by logging into another device and clicking on the Find My iPhone option by logging into your Apple account.
If it’s an Android device, you can use the Android Device Manager and look for the recent location of your device with the Find My Device option with your same google ID. Here, you also get a chance to secure your device to start displaying a message on the smartphone. You can even erase your device remotely with Android Find My Device.
3. Track Your Phone Using GPS when Lost
If calling does not help, try to locate the phone using your phone’s GPS. However, if you haven’t activated your phone’s GPS from the start, this method won’t help you at all. Your Android devices come with an inbuilt location tracking service that tracks the activities you do with your mobile phone. For example, you can log in to your Google account from another device and go to Google Location History to track your lost phone’s current location.
Or, with the help of Android Find My Device for Android or Find My iPhone, you can check the recent location of your smartphone.
4. Erase All the Data Remotely
If calling or using GPS is not enough to know your phone’s location, maybe the person who got it took out the battery and your sim card as well. You can erase all your data from your iCloud or Google account, but this won’t let you track your device again. But if you had kept a backup of all your data before you lost your phone, you can restore it.
5. Report Your Stolen or Lost Phone to the police
If you think you have not lost your phone, preferably, it was stolen, then report it as soon as possible to the police. Though the chance of getting your phone back is nearly zero, you can at least show the reference number to demand your insurance. First, however, you need to make sure that your phone is stolen and not lost.
6. Deactivate Your SIM Card
As soon as you discover that your phone is not receiving any calls from you, contact your service provider to ask them to suspend your SIM card. Of course, this will not get your phone back, but you can at least prevent the misuse of your number. Moreover, if your mobile wallets are linked to your phone number, then the person who stole your phone can rob your account, as the OTP will be sent to your phone number during a purchase. This is a stressful situation, and the last thing you want right now is no balance on your account to buy a new phone.
7. Secure Your Online Accounts
Not only your emails but your social network accounts are also important. The moment someone finds your phone or steals it from you, that person can quickly look into your social media accounts and pretend to be you. They can access your Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, and other networks and text people you usually do. To prevent this, change your passwords from all accounts, including Google and other emails you have.
Preferably try to wipe your smartphone with the help of Android Device Manager or iCloud.
8. Unlink Your Accounts
If changing passwords does not give you that mental satisfaction, you can manually unlink all your cloud accounts. Unlinking your cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., can also stop the syncing process, making your accounts safer. You can do this from your desktop or another mobile device by going to the account’s security page and removing your lost device from the list.
Many people’s lives revolve around their smartphones. However, it now does far more than merely store phone numbers and assist you in making calls. This gadget has become a part of daily life, from digital wallet information to taxi booking.
The smartphone is a device that many people adore and appreciate. So losing or having your phone stolen may be more than an annoyance or financial loss. But don’t worry, everything is not lost. Not yet. The above-mentioned tips might help you understand what to do when your phone is lost.