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.
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.
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.
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.