When your phone is lost or stolen, you have more at stake than just a relatively expensive handheld. Your password, financial details, work documents, and other sensitive information can get compromised if the device falls into the wrong hands.
But if you take the right steps promptly after realizing it’s been stolen, you can limit the potential damage to a lost handheld and nothing more.
What to Do if Your Smartphone Is Stolen or Lost
If you lose an iOS or Android phone, you can find, lock and erase it—thanks to the built-in safety features. However, before taking any advanced steps, make sure your phone is not temporarily misplaced.
Here are a few steps that you can follow to find and recover your stolen device or, as a last resort, wipe clean the device to protect your data.
1. Confirm That Your Smartphone Is Stolen
Call your phone number with another phone to see if you can find it nearby. If you have left it behind or dropped it, it is possible that a Samaritan may receive the call and help you with its location or may even deliver it if possible.
Additionally, send a short text with a return request and your alternate number to your phone number. If your device is set to Silent, use the Play Sound feature in Google Find My Device to ring. It will continuously ring for five minutes even when on Silent.
2. Locate Your Phone Using FindMyMobile (Samsung Only)
Samsung offers its proprietary FindMyMobile tracking service for the Galaxy devices. It allows you to remotely backup data, retrieve calls and messages, and even unlock the device. You can also extend battery life or set guardians.
To track your stolen or lost Samsung Galaxy device:
Go to the Samsung FindMyMobile page and sign in with your login details associated with your Samsung account. A verification code will be sent to your email address. Use the verification pin to verify the ownership.
Once verified, FindMyMobile will locate your device and show it on a map. Click on the Pin icon to view the location details.
Here, you can use Lock Power Off to prevent others from turning off your phone, take backup of your apps, settings, calls, log, or erase data to protect your privacy.
If you don’t have a Samsung device, you can always use Google’s Find My Phone to track your stolen phone.
3. Locate Your Phone Using Find My Phone
By default, both iOS and Android devices turn on the Find My Phone feature—provided the user is logged into their Google or iCloud account. It is a built-in security feature to find, lock or erase data on your device in case of theft or loss.
On Android, Find My Device can show a pinpoint GPS location of your device on Google Map. You will be surprised to see the location accuracy when in action. Alternatively, type Find My Phone on Google search, and you can view the live location on the search result page itself.
Similarly, Apple offers the Find My iPhone feature to track the location of an iPhone. You must have the location services enabled and access to your iCloud account from a computer for this to work.
Read our guide on how to trace and find your phone’s location, which discusses both services in detail.
5. Remotely Lock or Wipe Your Phone
If you are certain the phone is stolen, act quickly to lock or wipe clean your phone. You can remotely lock your Android phone and log out using the Find My Device service.
On Android Phone: To secure your device, go to Find My Device and click Secure Device. Here, enter a new password and click Next. Follow-on screen instructions to set a lock.
If you want to delete all content from the device:
- Click on Erase Device on the Find My Device page.
- Click on Erase Device gain to continue.
- Authenticate your account by signing in to your Google Account.
- After the verification is complete, Find My Phone will permanently delete all data from your device. If your device is offline, the wipe process will begin the next time it comes online.
Note that, once the data is erased, Find My Phone will no longer work, and you won’t be able to track the device using the service anymore.
On iOS devices: Go to icloud.com/find and use the Find My iPhone feature to erase data on your phone.
6. Change Password for Essential Services
The banking apps on your smartphone are protected by a PIN or bio authentication verification. But the email, online shopping, and other apps often don’t have additional security layers.
So, change the password for all the essential services you frequently use on your smartphone, including email, online banking, shopping apps, and password managers, to prevent unauthorized access and use.
7. Call Your Bank
It is extremely difficult to bypass biometric authentication or PIN-based safety measures of your banking apps on your stolen phone. But some users save their financial credentials in plain text on a cloud service, email, or note-taking app. In that case, it is imperative to alert your bank and block your cards and accounts temporarily.
Additionally, block all the UPI and mobile wallet services by reaching out to the support desk of the respective service provider.
That said, with access to your SIM, the possibility of anyone being able to reset your financial app password is extremely high. So, your next immediate step should be to block your SIM.
You should notify your mobile phone operator or carrier as soon as you determine your phone is stolen. You can request the carrier to block your SIM to prevent unauthorized transactions or access to other services via the OTP-based password reset system.
If you have a Pay Monthly Phone plan, your carrier can lock the device, making it unusable with a new carrier or SIM.
9. File a Police Complaint
Filing a police complaint about a stolen or missing device can help you in many ways. First, it can help you make your case against any fraudulent activities committed through your phone after it was stolen. And if you have phone insurance, the insurer will require a police report processing your claim.
Be Ready to Find Your Lost or Stolen Phone
Phone tracking services like FindMyMobile by Samsung and Find My Phone on iOS and Android only works if you are logged in. If you haven’t lost your phone yet, make sure you enable these services on your smartphone as a precautionary measure.
Also, don’t save your banking credentials in plain text on your phone or cloud storage account. Temporarily blocking your SIM card and filing a police report on time can also help you minimize the damage.
If your Android phone gets stolen, you’ll need a way to get it back. Here are the best Android anti-theft apps.
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