Monthly Tip: What to Do If You Lose Your Smartphone

July 15, 2014

Losing your smartphone isn't just inconvenient. If your phone falls into the wrong hands, you could be at risk of identity theft. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you find your phone—and mitigate any potential data losses.

 

Tips for locating your phone
You've called your smartphone's number from another phone, but you don't hear it ring. Now what?

 

  • Try to locate it on your own. If you've enabled your phone's built-in tracking technology or another locator app, you should be able to track it from a computer and even erase your data remotely.
     

  • Consider suspending your service. If you can't track the phone, consider calling your carrier to suspend your service. (Your account still exists, but no one can make or receive calls, download applications, or use any other features.) This is a good way to protect your phone from unauthorized use while you continue searching for it.
     

  • Change your passwords. If your phone has applications that allow access to personal information (such as e-mails, financial accounts, or social networking profiles), be sure to change the passwords to those accounts.
     

  • Contact the police. If you're fairly sure your cell phone is gone, you may want to file a police report documenting the theft or loss. If you have insurance coverage, you'll likely need a copy of the police report to place a claim.
     

  • Try to negotiate on a new phone. If you need to get a new phone, it's worth negotiating with your carrier. You may be able to replace your lost phone for less than full value without extending your contract or upgrading your service plan.
     

Protecting your phone—before it goes missing
If your phone is safely in your possession, here are a few measures to take now:

 

  • Password-protect it. With a password in place, anyone who finds your phone will be unable to use it. (Most phones allow emergency calls to be made without entering a password.)
     

  • Activate your phone's tracking technology. Most smartphones come with built-in tracking capability—all you need to do is activate it. Enabling this technology is probably your best shot of finding a lost or stolen phone.
     

  • Turn on your phone lockout/reset setting. Smartphones allow you to set controls that either lock out the user or reset the phone to the factory setting if the incorrect password is entered too many times.
     

  • Enable remote wiping. Many smartphones can be configured to allow you to remotely wipe the data in case your device is lost or stolen.
     

  • Write down your phone's ID numbers. Recording your phone's model and serial numbers will come in handy if you ever need to report it missing or file a claim.
     

  • Limit the personal information you keep your phone. Avoid keeping social security numbers, financial information, credit card numbers, and other personal data on your phone. If you've downloaded applications that allow easy access to your accounts, be sure that you can easily lock or wipe your phone in the event it's lost or stolen.
     

Following these steps may take a few minutes, but it will be time well spent if you ever lose your smartphone!

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