Losing or stealing your phone can be very upsetting. After all, you have a lot of important information about the device. But if you take the right steps the moment you realize it's gone, you may be able to minimize the pain.
What should you do if your smartphone is stolen or irretrievably lost?
If you have determined that your phone is not just temporarily lost, it is wise to take more advanced steps to protect your data and identity.
1. report the loss of data to your mobile operator immediately
Your carrier may suspend or disconnect service from your missing phone to prevent unauthorized cell phone use. If possible, you should call your carrier, but if you don't have access to a phone, you can also report it on their website by logging into your account.
Here's a list of contact information for major U.S. cellular carriers:
- AT&T: 1-800-331-0500 or www.att.com/suspend.
- Sprint: 1-888-211-4727 or https://www.sprint.com/en/support/solutions/device/report-that-your-device-is-lost-or-stolen.html
- T-Mobile: 1-877-746-0909 lub https://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-1211
- Verizon: 1-800-922-0204 or https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/suspend-service-faqs/#lost-stolen.
2. remotely lock and wipe your phone if possible
Now most smartphones have a built-in "kill switch" that allows you to remotely deactivate your device and prevents thieves from resetting it. For these services to work, you must first have them installed. Here's a list of some of the more popular online portals that can help you:
- Apple Find My iPhone Activation Lock: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201365
- Remotely Lock My Device - Find My Device - Android: https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-137943/
- Samsung Find My Mobile: https://findmymobile.samsung.com
- T-Mobile Lookout Mobile Security A[[: https://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-4257
- Windows 10 only Find and lock your lost Windows device: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/11579/microsoft-account-find-and-lock-lost-windows-device
3. change your passwords
Smartphone companies often offer cloud services so that your phone can access your data in the cloud. To prevent a thief from doing this, you'll want to change your cloud passwords as soon as possible. You should also change your passwords for any other accounts you have access to on your phone, such as bank accounts, social media, email, and more.
How to help protect your smartphone and yourself
As the old saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and in this particular case, that's never been more true. These tips can help protect your phone and information if you ever lose your phone:
- Use an auto-lock and password. It is possible to lock most devices with a password or similar feature. But many people simply don't do this, leaving their contacts, text messages, emails and social media accounts open to anyone who lays their hands on the phone.
- Back up your information. Regularly backing up your information can be a lifesaver if you never regain access to your phone. Whether you use a low-tech technique like saving phone numbers or something more high-tech like uploading information to the cloud, you'll be glad to have a backup if your phone is stolen or lost.
- Consider tracking software. As mentioned above, most cell phones offer basic tracking and remote protection software, but it must be installed and configured to work. If your phone doesn't come with a "kill switch" or you want something with more security features, consider Norton Mobile Security, which gives you the ability to lock and wipe your cell phone if it's stolen or lost - and much more.
- Don't save browser passwords. When you visit password-protected websites, take the time to type in your password. Otherwise, a thief could gain access to sensitive information simply by unlocking your phone. Entering your password each time may seem tiresome, but the extra effort can help protect your identity.
To learn more about how to protect your smartphones, PCs, Macs and other devices, download our How to Protect Your New Device eBook.
Read also: How to protect your phone from theft?