Losing your phone—or worse, having it stolen—is stressful. But it's a real risk and can happen to anyone. In fact, according to Asurion data, 4.1 million phones were lost or stolen in 2022—that's more than 11,000 phones each day.
If your mobile phone suddenly disappears, use these tips to help protect your data and hopefully recover your device quickly.
7 steps to follow if your phone is lost or stolen
Step 1: Call your phone or use your carrier's mobile app to send an alert
Start simple: use another device to call your mobile phone. This step is trickier if you had your phone on silent, but sometimes it's on a hard surface and you can hear it vibrate, so it's worth a try. You can also use your carrier's mobile app to override your ringer settings and sound an alert.
Step 2: Text your cell phone
If you have text messages set to display on the lock or home screen, this easy trick can help a good Samaritan get your phone back to you quickly. Text your mobile phone to provide instructions on how to reach you, just in case someone finds it.
Step 3: Use your phone's built-in find my phone feature
Your phone has built-in security measures that allow you to track, ring, lock, or erase it remotely, if you have the feature enabled. On Android™ devices, the feature is called Find My Device™; on an iPhone®, it's called Find My™.
To check to see if the feature is enabled on your device and to learn how to use it, read more in our guides to how to find your lost Android phone and how to find your lost or stolen iPhone.
Step 4: Remotely erase the data from your phone
If you're fairly certain your smartphone was stolen, you should remotely delete the data from your device to keep your information safe, and you should do it as soon as possible. Sophisticated thieves may remove SIM cards or use special boxes that shield mobile phones from cellular networks, making it impossible for you to wipe the device if you delay.
To remotely erase an iPhone:
- Go to icloud.com/find on another device and log into your iCloud account.
- Click on All Devices, then choose from the list the iPhone you want to erase.
- Click on Erase iPhone.
To remotely erase your Samsung or Google phone:
- Go to android.com/find on another device.
- Sign in to your Google account.
- From the left-hand menu, choose Erase Device.
Step 5: Lock your phone & change passwords
If your cell phone can't be located quickly, use your phone's find my phone feature to remotely lock your phone from any location. Also, be sure to take this opportunity to change the passwords on any accounts you regularly accessed or had an app for on your—especially financial accounts, email, and social media, just in case.
Step 6: Contact your mobile carrier
If you've had no luck locating your device, after erasing and locking it remotely, reach out to the carrier for your consumer cellular plan. They can disable service to your phone, and can typically mark the phone itself as unusable, even with a new SIM card or new carrier. This not only helps protect you, but someone who may unknowingly purchase a used phone that's been stolen.
Step 7: Alert the police
You may or may not get your phone back, but you could potentially need a police report if you have to protest fraudulent charges made with your device.
Will insurance cover my lost or stolen phone?
Depends on your provider. Asurion offers cell phone insurance that covers not only loss and theft, but protection from everyday mishaps like cracked screen repair and coverage for water damage, with you receiving a replacement device in as little as 24 hours. Read reviews from actual customers we helped recover from lost, stolen and damaged smartphones.