My smartphone was stolen right under my nose last night and it had a devastating effect on my mental state that I didn’t know where to start. Just like any other thing, your smartphone can be stolen while you’re either aware of it or not but is it not rather sensible to take precautionary measures to keep your valuables secured.
Most software companies lately are mobile-focused considering the number of smartphones being shipped across the world and the fact that the majority of people use smartphones, this tiny piece of the device has become everything we’re fond of.
We keep our contacts, memories, details, payment information, vital password, health information and so much more stored upright on our smartphones, and losing them can be devastating because you basically lose all of those data just like that – as if Thanos snapped his finger.
Then there is the Cloud which is meant to be the absolute alternative to your physical gadget which can be stolen or damaged beyond repair. Google as well as other popular OEMs now have backup systems built right within their devices which will let you keep your data backed up in the cloud based on your schedule and that is fantastic.
When you lose your Android phone, the first thing you want to prevent is access to your data and personal information which is why you must first back up your smartphone upon purchase. To do this, sign in to your Google Account or just create one – it’s free and super fast.
The point is making your transition to another device simple and fast so you don’t feel like you’re starting all over again. In my own case, I have several important things all backed up in the cloud including my photos, contacts, and even my WhatsApp chat.
Whether its lost or missing
Step 1: Use a strong screen lock
This is very self-explanatory as this will also prevent prying eyes from seeing your personal info right on your device all the time. You make use of different security layers to keep your device safe and secure.
Rather than creating the easy to guess 4-digit pin, it might be advisable to make use of a strong password that contains multiple strings of at least 8-characters which should also include things like letters, numbers, and special characters which are hard to guess – but you know.
This is the first barrier that needs to be created to keep your device well secured and then there is the fingerprint scanner. This technology keeps getting better and that’s a great thing. While some device has their fingerprint scanners mounted on the side or at the back or even underneath the display but they are all secured and keep your phone locked until it recognizes your fingerprint.
Now, where this is great is that after numerous failed attempts to get into your phone (usually 10), the device will typically just erase itself to keep all of your data on that device out of the reach of the criminal which is why the cloud is the most secured way of getting your stuff back.
Step 2: Use a ‘find my phone’ app
This feature is baked right into every Android phone via the Google service and that is a big advantage and even if you are using Huawei, it’s also baked into the Huawei Mobile Service as well and it works really well. The system tracks your phone in real-time based on where it is and where it’s being all shown in a log.
After losing my phone, the first thing I did was head to the Google Find My Phone system to locate my stolen phone and the criteria are simple.
Must be logged in to your Google account on that device
Must be turned on for real-time monitoring to work
Must be connected to the internet because the process is internet based.
This feature as promising as it might sound didn’t really help because the thief probably removed my sim from the phone immediately after it got stolen. But you might be lucky.
On a web browser, visit the Google Device Manager to find your device’s last location or just track it in real-time if it’s online. You can even ring it and Google will send a loud ring to the device so if it’s close by, you’ll easily find it.
For the app to be useful, the phone must be turned on and have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Location tracking (GPS) must also be enabled to find the phone on a map, but probably isn’t required to erase the phone’s contents. Since thieves will probably turn off the phone fairly quickly, yank out its SIM card, or put it in a room or box shielded from wireless connections, it’s imperative that as soon you learn that your phone is missing, you send it any commands you think appropriate.
Step 3: Attach a note
You may not love the idea of marrying your phone’s great looks, but doing so may increase your chances of getting it back if it’s found by an honest person. Tape a tiny note on the back of your phone with your e-mail address or a work number (You don’t want to give a potential burglar your home number). In my informal tests, printing my e-mail address in a small font and taping it on with a small strip of shipping tape worked well on phones with smooth metal or plastic surfaces. On phones with rubbery or rough surfaces, neatly write that info, using a fine-point permanent marker, on a small strip of duct or electrical tape, which cling better to such surfaces. Choose a spot on the phone that’s least likely to receive constant rubbing from your palm or fingers.
On Android phones, you can also type such a message in the Owner Info section of the Security submenu in Settings. But if you erase the contents of your phone, that message will disappear.
Step 4: Back up your photos and videos
You can use Google Drive or Dropbox or Onedrive to keep your stuff well-secured in the cloud and that is a great thing for you. Just like in my case, I was able to retrieve my photos and videos back from the cloud after losing them physically with the stolen phone. Though the retrieval will take some time depending on your internet’s speed.
Step 5: Record your phone’s IMEI
This is a very important number that it’ll be nice for you to keep. One good thing about connecting your device with your Google account is the fact that you can retrieve your IMEI with ease all with one click.
Your cell carrier also has this 15-digit number on file and may be able to use it to put the phone on a missing phone list. Some police departments ask for either of these numbers when you report a stolen phone so that they’ll be able to return it to you if it’s recovered. You can typically find either number on the phone box or in your phone’s settings menu. It is also often found printed on or under the phone’s battery. You can find your phone’s IMEI by dialing *#06#. The number should pop up on your screen.
You’ll find an IMEI number on all phones from GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile, and so-called world phones from CDMA carriers such as Verizon and Sprint. Less-common nonworld phones from Verizon and Sprint have a different ID number called a mobile equipment identifier, or MEID. The MEID is comparable; you can find it the same way you find an IMEI.
To protect your data on the stolen smartphone, you can apply to block your IMEI which is supposed to render the phone useless.
In case you can’t find the phone again
Step 1: Seek and destroy
As soon as possible, log on to your “find my phone” service from a secure device. Try to locate the phone on a map. If it’s nearby, have the phone ring. If it’s not close enough for you to reach within the next few minutes, push the erase button. Hopefully, an honest person will come across your device and notify you via the contact info you taped to your phone.
Step 2: Change your important passwords
As soon as you realize your phone is no longer in your possession and not quickly recoverable, go to the nearest secure computer, log into every account you had on your phone (banking, shopping, e-mail, etc.) and change your passwords. Start with the financial and shopping accounts that have your credit card on files, such as Amazon.com or your bank, and quickly move on to e-mail and social networks.
Step 3: Call your institutions
Head to your bank, call your network provider and contact other services you use and let them all be aware of the fact that your device was stolen or is missing. With that, you can rest assured that your data will be well secured right on your smartphone
Inform your bank and credit card companies that you’ve lost your phone to alert them to possible fraudulent charges. The sooner they know, the easier it will be to dispute unauthorized account activities.
If you recover your phone
The first thing is to just erase the device because it might be possible that some malware or malicious apps are right on the device which might in turn cause problems for you later on.
But before wiping the device, ensure all your backed-up data are still in the cold. Then you can retrieve the normal data by going to your Google account and retrieving your data right on your device with one click.