Sunday, November 17, 2013

What To Do If Your Phone Is Lost Or Stolen

Lets be honest, the contents of the average person's phone nowadays is at least as important as the contents of his or her wallet/ purse.  We live in a digital age, and many of the things on our phones and tablets are very important to our normal lives -- things like photos, email, contacts, just to name a few.

So what happens if all this is gone in a flash?  Its not something I hope you ever have to deal with, but if your phone is lost or stolen, you should already have a plan in place, instead of being in a panic and adding a ton of stress to your life.

One thing I always suggest is to set up an account over at Wallet Garden -- here, you store the info about what is in your wallet (or phone) and what to do if it goes missing.  You don't store things like credit card info here -- only the name of the card, and the phone number for customer service to call.  You should save the info about your phone (service provider, serial number, and customer service number to call) so everything is available in one place.  That way, if your device (or wallet) goes missing, you can borrow a friend's phone to get online, look up your info quickly, and call to get things locked down.

In addition, you should have your phone properly backed up and secured.  With Apple's iPhone you can use the iCloud service to back up your device, or back up locally to a computer you own.  You can also set up "Find my iPhone" which will allow you to locate your device on a map by logging in to the iCloud website.  None of this is good however, unless you set up a passcode lock on your phone.  If your phone is not locked, a thief can simply turn these features off.

The first thing that you should immediately do is to call your mobile service provider, and have your account put on hold.  Even if you have enabled locking/ tracking on your mobile device, a thief can take your SIM card out of your phone, put it into another handset, and rack up lots of charges.  One thing they do is to set up a -900 line that they own, and call it, making a huge bill that is charged back to you.  Do not postpone this step -- if you cannot find your device, or think it was stolen, do this right away -- even if you are fortunate to find your phone, it is a small inconvenience to deal with vs. the possibility of those huge charges that you may end up having to pay.

The next thing you should do is to change your passwords on things like email, bank accounts, and service providers such as Apple iTunes.  Even if you do have your phone locked properly, it is best to take this step to ensure you are protected, and your device can no longer access your accounts.

After you have taken these preliminary steps, you should file a police report if you believe your phone was stolen.  This will assist you in getting the phone recovered (if possible) or filing an insurance claim if applicable.  Note that even if you can track your phone, you should never attempt to recover it yourself -- let the authorities handle it.

With the holidays now in full swing, many people are traveling and spending time visiting with friends and family -- not a good time to deal with a lost or stolen phone!  So make sure to follow these tips, for in case the unfortunate happens, you are protected.