What to do when you lose your phone? [First Steps]

Having your cell phone stolen is more than an inconvenience or headache. It can feel like a part of your identity has been ripped away from you. Cell phones contain tons of valuable personal information. When your cell phone is stolen, a thief suddenly has access to all of your phone numbers, photos and passwords.

It feels natural to panic in this situation. The better solution is to calm yourself down and fight back against the thief who targeted your cell phone. Protecting yourself and your identity should be your first goal.

You may sound helpless without your phone but you have to stand strong and take proper steps to protect your phone from being misused by wrong hands.

Phone identity

If your cell phone is stolen, take these steps to combat the would-be cell phone thief:

Terminate Your Service
Your first priority is to contact your cell phone company immediately and have them suspend your cell phone service. This prevents a thief from running up fraudulent charges on long distance calls or text messages not covered under your monthly plan. It is much harder to dispute fraudulent charges if you let too much time lapse.

File a Police Report
Get the local police in on the action. Filing a police report is easy and can be done by simply dialing 311 in many major cities. A police report gives an official record of when and where your cell phone was stolen and makes it easier for the police to eventually track it down. It also offers legal protection for you in case that same thief runs up fraudulent charges before you can deactivate your service.

Police using the phone

Track Your Phone
If you have GPS or other tracking software on your phone, you can use it to pinpoint the location of your missing phone. You can choose from a multitude of apps perfectly equipped to get the job done. For iPhone users, Apple has a free Find iPhone app you can set up and access from iCloud.com when necessary. This app lets you send a message to the phone or make it sound an alert. Android or Blackberry users can try Lookout. It is also a free app that works on the same principle as Find iPhone, only it also fights viruses and protects data. When you pinpoint the phone’s suspected location, pass this information onto the police and let them do their work.

Erase Your Data
If all of your best efforts to retrieve your phone fail, the best remaining option is to remotely wipe all personal data from it to prevent identity theft. It would be nice to catch your cell phone thief in the act of sending photos or texts or making expense phone calls. But it is more important to protect bank accounts, addresses, phone numbers and other sensitive information.

Protect Your Data
Setting up password protection on your smart phone just makes sense, especially if it stores tons of sensitive data. It is the safest way to prevent that data from falling into the wrong hands, even if your cell phone does. The password should be strong enough to resist basic hacking so it can limit access to your phone. You should also set up your phone to go into password protect mode when it has been dormant for only a brief time.
phone lock protect
Back up Your Data
It is always good to be prepared if your phone gets stolen and you have to clean out all of your personal data, Channel your inner boy scout or inner girl scout and invest in a reserve SIM card containing a copy of all your data. You can find great T-mobile phone deals online and they are easy to install into a new phone.

Insure Your Phone
Most cell phone providers offer low cost cell phone insurance plans. For a small monthly fee, you can purchase protection for your handset and any related devices. Then if your cell phone gets stolen or lost, you can replace it under the insurance plan and be fully reimbursed for the cost.

Peace of Mind
Thinking ahead will help you prevent adding stress to the trauma of losing your cell phone. It doesn’t take much to protect your personal data and it eliminates plenty of headaches that come with replacing a stolen phone.

  • http://www.discoverinfographics.com Submit Infographics

    ah if only this guide could prevent me from dropping my phone in the lake… =)

  • Nikhil Bansode

    Indian police are not very helpful, my cell phone was stolen last year and they just logged a complaint of missing sim card and did’t do anything about missing phone.

  • http://www.mediatechpub.com Erica Williams

    Certainly the very first step either your cell phone is stolen or you lost somewhere should be to inform your company to terminate your service immediately, and for precautionary measurements (as I do) you should keep backup in your personal computer and update it once a month.

  • http://www.newarrives.com vetrri

    very informative.many anti-theft protection apps available in android and Samsung too gives a app to help their customers to locate lost phones.thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.madrasgeek.com Srivathsan G.K

    Indian scenario, police complaint won’t work as said by the above reader. Lookout is a useful software to wipe off data remotely.

  • http://freshinfos.com Roshan

    I just loved your first instruction “calm yourself down and fight back against the thief” lol :D

    I agree with you.. That’s the best thing to do. But if it were up to me, I would run like hell after handing over the phone to the thief.. lol I don’t wanna die over a phone.

  • http://www.ibad.info Mathew

    I honestly wouldn’t have thought of half of those things! All very important

  • http://handymangoldcoast.com/ Walter Steel

    Thanks, but do you know any apps on android smart phone that could secure all the files saved on phone?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNyjQ2fyhcw Net10 

    It’s really hard to lose a phone because some important contacts are there. Good thing is we have security terms to be used.

  • http://www.cameronkline.com Cameron

    Having just lost a cell phone I can’t tell you how handy the track your phone tip is. I never thought I would use it but I’m so glad that I set it up.

  • http://www.locksandaccess.com/ locksmiths cornwall

    Thanks for posting this great advice here – so useful for people in emergency / panicked situations!

  • http://iplugin.org/ Zoe @ apple cases

    Awesome tips! Very clear and thorough, yes I especially like your advices to be steady and that way you can think well in situations like this, many thanks for the share, great work!

  • http://www.tabletsandstuff.com Cheap Tablets

    I haven’t lost my phone yet so this is a great advice. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.Look-Like-Buy.com infoman

    Yes indeed in nowadays the police are not doing anything besides filling the paper work and let you go. The best way is to track your phone and then call them to capture the thief. Other than that they will be hopeless.

  • http://www.famcare.net Human services software

    Good tips, although I would never bank on the police searching for stolen phones. Your best to not do online banking from your phone, putting on a swipe password, and use an app that can locate your phones whereabouts.
    -Jon

  • http://www.techprevail.com Rubina

    I have found this post to be really useful…On losing the phone, generally people are lost as to what the next step should be and get into trouble if appropriate action is not taken in time…Great tips!…Thanks a ton!

  • Josh

    Losing your phone is one of the worst feelings, knowing all of your families contact info and pictures are in a stragers hands. Good list of procedures thanks!
    Hidden Cameras

  • http://www.adityareza.com/ aditya

    Nice Tips…
    I just wanted to add one thing.
    It would be better to put a GPS tracking device on your phone to make it easier to find it :)

  • http://www.kesilconsulting.com Justin

    I hate it when I lose my phone, I always panic first haha, but so far it has always been in a safe place like the car or jacket pocket.

    I should definitely set up a password lock on it though. It’s an iPhone 4s, I bet there is some way to do it on there!

  • http://www.technologyend.com Jatin Singhroha

    Just added a lockcode on all applications on my android handset because we cant handover everything to police. We should have our best efforts. I hadn’t lost any phone till now but i want to secure it for future.