What Are the First Things You Should Do After Your Phone is Stolen?
Imagine this. You’re in the pub with friends. You leave your phone unguarded for a minute or so; only to find it’s been stolen by an opportunistic thief.
Unfortunately, this scenario, along with many others, is commonplace in the UK. A recent report found that half a million Brits had their phones taken in one year alone, and these numbers look set to rise, as criminals find increasingly sophisticated ways to get their hands on your handset.
There are steps you can take to minimise the risk of theft. However, it can happen to anyone, regardless of how careful you are. With that in mind, here’s what you should do if you discover that your phone has been pinched.
What to do if your phone is stolen – a step-by-step guide
- Try to locate it. Before you jump to conclusions, mentally retrace your steps. Could you have left it somewhere by accident, for example? Might it have fallen on the floor, rather than been stolen? Use an app like Famisafe or Where’s My Droid to locate your phone geographically. If you see that the handset is in the vicinity, it might be worth trying to track it – though don’t put yourself at risk in the process.
- Make a noise. Some apps, like Lookout, also force your phone to make a ‘siren noise’, when activated remotely. This could cause the thief to get rid of the device (out of panic about being spotted with a phone making a loud, persistent noise).
- Shut it down (if you can). If you’re confident that your phone has been stolen, you’ll want to restrict access to your precious data and files. If you’ve installed an app like Find My Phone, use it to wipe all data off your handset. This means that thieves can’t use your information for identity fraud purposes.
- Contact your service provider. Once you’ve ensured that your phone is wiped, you’ll need to contact your service provider. They can put a bar or block on your SIM, which stops thieves from making calls, then charging them to your account. Your provider can also prevent anyone else from using your handset by blocking the IMEI number.
- Check your accounts. As soon as possible, check your online accounts. This could include your bank, your social media, and your email accounts. Ascertain whether there has been any activity on them since you lost your phone. For example, if someone has accessed your Paypal account, you can report the activity as unauthorised. Paypal will then investigate, and may even cover you for the loss of funds.
Be aware that it’s difficult to retrieve a stolen phone. Most criminals are well-versed in how to quickly access sensitive data, and some know how to disable location apps. In short, the quicker you act, the more chances of success you’ll have.
If you’re not insured, you need to be prepared for some hefty costs with replacing the handset. It doesn’t matter if it’s still in warranty either, as most warranties, regrettably, don’t cover costs associated with theft.
Taking precautions before your phone is stolen
Losing your phone can be a miserable experience. It’s not only expensive to replace; it also means that you’ve potentially lost valuable photos, messages and videos, not to mention given criminals access to your passwords and private data.
There are steps you can take to reduce the impact of phone-theft. These include:
- Backing everything up regularly. Take the time to back up all those precious pictures and video content. If your phone is stolen, you won’t be able to get them back again.
- Insuring your phone. Some insurance packages cost just a few pounds each month. If your phone goes AWOL, they’ll cover the costs of replacing the handset, which is a huge relief.
- Keeping your phone safe and secure. Get into good safety habits when you’re using your phone. Don’t leave it on display when you’re out with friends. Putting it in your back pocket is a really bad idea; it’s far too easy for passing fingers to grab it! When using your phone, be aware of your surroundings – often, thieves seize phones right out of the hands of unsuspecting victims.
- Set up the necessary apps before it gets stolen. It takes just a few minutes to download apps like Where’s My Droid or Lookout. Hopefully, you’ll never require their services – but if your phone does get stolen, you’ll be glad you took the time to install them.