Be it unseen pick-pockets sneaking through the crowd or a blunt man with a gun to your head on a deserted road, your phone can be stolen anywhere, and at any time. If not that, a forgetful mind would make sure to get the job done as you leave a coffee shop with your steaming cup of espresso.
The world is filled with things trying to separate us from our precious phones. There are so many ways to get your phone stolen or lost that it seems almost naive to not be prepared from the very start.
So, what should you do if your phone is lost or stolen?
Recovering a Lost Phone
First things first, if there is any way you can recover your lost phone, you should try it first. As soon as you realize that your phone is missing, call it from some other phone to see if it is still ringing.
Does the phone ring? If it does, there are two main possibilities; either the phone is just lost somewhere, or the person who took it is a little too dumb (or reckless) to have not turned it off. One of the first things any phone thief does is to turn the phone off so it can not be tracked.
The good news is, if the phone is still ringing, there is a chance it can still be recovered.
Tracking your Phone
Android: You can use Android Device Manager to remotely locate your device. Simply Google “Find my phone” while signed in to your Google Account and it should start tracking. Alternatively, you can also download the Android Device Manager app from the Play Store on another Android phone and log into your own account to locate it (tracking won’t work if location access is off on the device).
The catch? Your phone needs to be powered on and be connected (even if for a few seconds) to the internet for this to work.
iPhone: Apple has its own iPhone tracking feature called “Find My iPhone”. It can be enabled by going to the Settings, tapping on iCloud and then switching on “Find My iPhone”. Apple’s feature also needs to have Location Services enabled for it to be able to find the iPhone.
1. Log in to your account on Find My iPhone on some other iPhone/iPad or log in to iCloud account on the web and open Find My iPhone.
2. Now, click on “All Devices”. A green dot means the device is online while a gray dot means it is offline. Unless the device has been offline for more than 24 hours, it should also show a timestamp of the last time the device was online.
3. Select the device you want to locate and it should show an approximate location of the device. If the device is offline, it will show the last known location. You can also select “Notify me when found” to receive an email if the device comes online.
4. You should place your device in “Lost Mode” and lock it with a passcode. It will also let you display a custom message with your phone number to help you get the phone back.
If the phone doesn’t ring, either it is broken, has run out of battery, or has been turned off. In this case, you can pretty much forget about recovering your device. Now, you should focus on erasing your device’s data so someone else cannot gain access to it.
First, you should call your carrier and get your SIM-card blocked so it can’t be used by some other person. After that, you should proceed to erase your device.
Erasing your device
Android: You can use the Android Device Manager to ring the device, lock and change the password or perform a factory data reset. However, just like when locating the device, your phone needs to be connected to the internet after you perform the reset/lock long enough to receive the instructions.
Additionally, you need to have granted access to Android Device Manager to remotely perform a factory data reset for the respective functions to work.
You can enable access for ADM by going to the Google Settings app, then tapping on the Android Device Manager. (the locate feature is enabled by default).
iPhone: The iPhone too allows you to completely erase your device or ring it using the Find My iPhone app. Additionally, the iPhone also has a feature called “Activation Lock” that is enabled automatically once you enable Find My iPhone.
Activation Lock makes sure that no one can disable Find My iPhone, erase your device or reactivate it without your Apple ID and password.