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6 things to do immediately your Phone is Lost or Stolen

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Losing a smartphone either to theft, mishandling, or any other mishap can be a really horrible experience. Normally, the next step to take after the occurrence of a smartphone loss is to try to recover the device, before replacement comes to mind — i.e when recovery fails.

The actions below are some of the best things we think you should do swiftly as soon as you discover your device has gone missing.


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1. Track or Locate the Device

The first advised step is to determine where you device is. This will help tell if your phone was stolen or mislaid, or you forget it at an event you attended.

If you have tracking and monitoring apps previously installed on the device, you can easily track them. There are a good number of Android tracking apps available on the Google Play Store and likewise, App Store, for tracking iOS devices.

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Alternatively, you can use the services of phone manufacturers to locate your phone. “Find My iPhone” is a perfect phone tracking service for iPhone users while the “Find My Device” is for Android devices.

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These apps and services allows you remotely “call” your device to see if it around you (maybe lying somewhere in the kitchen drawer) and give map and satellite locations, too.

2. Password Change

Either after successful tracking of your phone and you discover that it is in an unknown location, or all tracking efforts have proved abortive and your phone is still unreachable, the next best thing to do is the change the password of vital apps with sensitive information.

Passwords of apps like banking apps, email, cloud storage, electronic wallet, and social media apps. Some tracking apps and services even allow you remotely lock your device with a new security code to deny the anyone in possession of your phone access to the contents.

3. Contact your Network Carrier

If you still cannot reach your phone, or you are now sure that it is in someone else’s possession, the next point of action would be to contact your network carrier to block services on the phone (SIM card) and also commence service retrieval processes.

4. Contact your Bank

It is always recommended that you contact the financial institution(s) through which you make monetary transactions on the missing device. Inform them about the state of your phone and instruct them to temporarily restrict the number from carrying out any transactions till you retrieve your phone or number.

This action is particularly important in Nigeria as phone thieves can gain access to your Bank Verification Number (BVN) by dialing a USSD code on your device. Combine this with your email and SMS bank alerts, they can launch a social Engineering campaign to swindle you, your bank, your place of work or your family and friends.

5. Contact Relatives and Work Buddies

It is also highly recommended that you notify relative and the people at your workplace about your missing device, particularly if you use the phone to access work-related data and information. Informing your colleagues and employer will be an awesome idea.

According to TomsGuide,

“This allows the company to take preventive steps to secure its data. The company’s IT department may also be able to delete company data from your phone remotely.”

6. Wipe/ Erase Contents of the Phone

Depending on the contents of the missing phone, this is actually the last thing that is advised to do — i.e if the likelihood of ever getting the phone back is zero (or very close to zero).

The good thing about this is that it can also be done remotely — via phone tracking/monitoring apps and services, or authorities with relevant equipment to remotely wipe data off a missing/stolen phone.

However, you should know that after wiping data off a phone, the chances of recovering the device later in the future are slim.

The above 6 items are some of the precautionary actions you should take once you notice your smartphone is missing. Doing these will ensure 2 things:

  • 1. That you recover your phone.
  • 2. That is the case where phone recovery fails, you do not lose other things (like money, data, etc.) in the long run.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article 6 things to do immediately your Phone is Lost or Stolen was written by Olanrewaju Sodiq. The article was last modified: August 23rd, 2018

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