Tech Tips

7 Survival Steps: The Ultimate Lost or Stolen Phone Checklist

Have you ever lost your phone? It’s a terrible feeling—but is a real risk and can definitely happen.  In fact, Asurion claims data actually shows evidence that more phones are lost in the first three months of the year than any other time.

Often, a lost phone is truly just misplaced, and when you do find it, you’re all set. Sometimes, “lost” also means “I don’t realize yet that my phone was stolen,” so you need to make sure your data stays safe, even if the worst happens.

Use these tips to be prepared, and then, if you do lose your phone, to act quickly.

Prepare to lose your phone

This sounds like a funny first step—but if you’re still holding your phone right now, you can make sure your data stays safe, even if you do lose your phone one day.

  • Install the mobile app provided by your phone carrier. This is a benefit that comes with your phone insurance plan. If you download the mobile app, you can quickly find your lost phone by locating it online or sound an alarm if it’s nearby. If your phone has been stolen or can’t be found, you can remotely lock the device or erase your data to protect your privacy (features vary by wireless carrier).  If you didn’t opt for phone insurance, you can still enable find-my-phone features or set your phone to wipe personal data remotely (Android: Settings>Security>Android Device Manager and iOS: Settings>iCloud>Find My iPhone).
  • Use a password. If you can turn on your phone or open the home screen without using a password or fingerprint, you’re tempting fate! Ensure your data stays secure no matter who’s holding your phone by setting your device to require a password every time you turn it on or open it. And remember the stronger the password the better.
  • Make sure your phone knows you. You can set up both Android and iPhones to know your emergency contact information. Many of us do this in the setup process, but double check the info your phone has on you, just to be sure. (Android: Settings>Security>Owner Info and iOS: Add emergency contact info in the Health app, Medical ID page. Also check Settings>Mail, Contacts, Calendars>My Info to ensure you’re listed as the owner of your phone.)

7 STEPS to follow if your phone is lost or stolen

  1. Call your phone or use your Mobile App to send an alert. Start simple. Use another phone to call your phone. Trickier if you had your phone on silent, but sometimes it’s on a hard surface and you can hear it vibrate, so this is always worth a try. You can also use your carrier’s mobile app to override your ringer settings and sound an alert.
  2. Use the Mobile App or your phone’s native find-my-phone feature. This is why we made sure you were all set up above. This functionality can quickly tell you if you left your phone at home or the office, for instance.
  3. Text your phone. If you have text messages set to display on the home screen, this easy trick can help a good Samaritan get your phone back to you quickly. Text your phone to provide instructions on how to reach you, just in case someone finds it.
  4. Back up, then Wipe it immediately. With automatic cloud backup through your carrier’s mobile app, you can feel safe knowing your data is secure and available.   If you’re fairly certain your phone was stolen, you can then use the remote wipe functionality for your device (Android and iOS) to remove data immediately. Don’t forget, time is of the essence here.  Sophisticated thieves may remove SIM cards or use special boxes that shield phones from cell networks, making it impossible for you to wipe the device if you delay.
  5. Lock your device & Change passwords. If your phone can’t be located quickly, your wireless carrier’s mobile app can remotely lock your phone from any location.  Also, be sure to take this opportunity to change the passwords on any accounts you had enabled on your device—especially financial accounts, email, and social media. Just in case.
  6. Contact your carrier. Your carrier can disable service to your phone and help you figure out what your next steps are, as well.
  7. Alert the police. You may or may not get your phone back, but you might need a police report if you have to protest fraudulent charges made with your device, and the police are definitely tracking device thefts.

If you have cell phone insurance, be sure it covers lost or stolen devices.  Asurion is actually one of very few companies , including the mobile manufacturers themselves, that offer loss and theft cell phone coverage.  Read reviews from actual customers we helped recover from lost, stolen and damaged smartphones … within one business day, 96% of the time.

Hopefully, you’ll never need this list, but at least you’re prepared just in case!