Many of us have experienced the frustration of losing a phone. Today’s smartphones are more than simple communication devices, often containing passwords and other sensitive details that are devastating in the wrong hands. If you’ve lost your phone and are wondering what to do next, these simple steps can help minimize the damage done and, potentially, recover your lost property.
Lost phones are often picked up by well-meaning people wishing to return them. If you haven’t yet, try calling your phone to see if this is the case. If no one answers, you might also send your phone a text message explaining that it has been lost, and offering a phone number or address to coordinate its return. Be sure to avoid giving your personal address, instead preferring public locations like coffee shops or gas stations. You may also wish to communicate via email to avoid giving out another person’s phone number.
Use Built-in Features
If no one answers when the phone is called, you can use your phone’s built-in features to quickly pinpoint its last location.
If your Android phone is connected with a Google account, searching Google for “find my phone” gives you a convenient way to locate it. The search results screen offers a list of devices linked to your current account, along with options to ring the phone or to enter a more advanced recovery mode. Advanced options let you lock the device, display its location, or trigger a remote wipe that removes all data on the device.
To recover a missing iDevice, sign into the iCloud account with which the phone was associated. You can also use the Find My iPhone app to help recover your phone. In addition to locating and locking missing devices, a “lost mode” feature reveals the missing phone’s location history so you’ll know not only where it is, but the route it took to get there.
Lock or Wipe Your Device
Once you’ve located your device using one of the above services, you’ll need to lock it immediately to prevent others from accessing apps and other credentials stored on the device. Even if it is being actively returned, it is critical to prevent accidental or intentional use of apps, or to block access to email and other sensitive information.
If you cannot make contact with whomever is in possession of your device after it has been locked, then it must be wiped. Thieves can use data recovery tools to bypass locks and access any data on the phone’s internal storage. Replacing lost data may be an annoyance if the phone is returned, but it is less frustrating than negotiating the complications of identity theft.
More often than not, a lost phone can be easily located with a quick call, or with help from the manufacturer. By following the above tips, you’ll almost certainly be back in possession of your phone in no time.