Where is my phone?

Alexander Freund

Of the perks of being a bit nerdy is that I get to read lots of good technology articles.  When I come across a really good one, I try to make sure I share it with my customers.  I really enjoy reading WIRED (www.wired.com), and came across an article recently that definitely qualifies.  If you would like to read the full article, please use this link:

https://www.wired.com/story/lost-stolen-phone-what-to-do/?CNDID=51598198&mbid=nl_091018_daily_list1_p4

The article basically covers what you should do before and after you lose your cell phone.  I think all of us have either misplaced, lost, or had a phone stolen.  Now that our phones contain so much of our personal information (including email, contacts, documents, etc.), and many of us are using it for Multi-Factor Authentication (access to banks, investment accounts, etc.), it is even more important to plan for the loss of a phone.  Here are the good takeaways from the article:

What to do before your phone gets stolen

  1. Turn on Remote Tracking – On Android, it’s called find my device, on iPhone it’s called Find My iPhone. You can view the current or last location of the device from the web or from another device, and can use both utilities to wipe the device if you need to protect your data. Login and do it a couple of times to practice, and then you will know how to do it if you ever lose your phone.
  2. Protect the Lock Screen – The lock screen protects someone else from just picking up your phone and using your open applications (mobile banking, facebook, etc.). Make sure to add a pin code, fingerprint, face recognition, or some other security feature for unlocking your phone.  You can find these options under Security & location in Android Settings, or Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode) in iOS Settings.  You can also set up the lock screen so that the phone will automatically erase all of your data after a certain number of failed attempts to get past the lock screen.
  3. Back Up Your Data – If you plan on getting back any information that is currently on your phone, you should have a backup of your phone data somewhere else. This includes text messages, phone logs, pictures, videos, music, etc.  To backup other data, like system settings and app data, turn to your phone’s default backup system.  On Android, go to Settings then tap System, Advanced, and Backup. On iOS, go to Settings then tap your name, then your device, then iCloud Backup (if you’ve enabled iCloud on your device, which you should).
  4. Arrange for Alternative Access – If you use 2FA (two-factor authentication), once your phone is lost or stolen, you will not be able to access any of the accounts that require 2FA. It is a good idea to set up alternative access options ahead of time. In the case of Google accounts, for instance, you can get a list of backup codes to use if your main two-factor method is compromised, or set up a secondary number.

 

What to do after your phone gets stolen

  1. Call your carrier. The network operator can make sure no one is actively using your phone or tried to impersonate you using your mobile number. They can lock your SIM card, and then replace it.
  2. Log the incident with the local police. You probably won’t get your phone back, but it’s a certainty if the police don’t know that you’re missing a phone. And if it does turn up, the police will be able to return it to you.  If you have phone insurance, you will probably need a case number to make a claim, which is another reason to register the theft.
  3. Call your insurance provider – If you have taken out insurance on your phone, you will want to get in touch with the insurance firm as soon as possible to arrange for a replacement.
  4. Try to Remotely Locate your Device. As mentioned above, you can use Find My Device or Find My iPhone to see where your phone is and remotely disable it if needed.
  5. Check your online accounts. It’s worth checking your accounts on a laptop or another phone to confirm no one else is accessing them.  Most apps, especially the ones that contain sensitive information will warn you about unauthorized attempts to access your account. On Facebook, for example, you can see current logins on this page.  If there is one you don’t recognize, or you see your stolen or lost phone in the list, you can click the three dots to the right then Log out. Alternatively, click Log out of all sessions to force out any other devices connected to your accounts. Plenty of other online accounts let you do the same trick, including Google and Twitter.  You might also want to change the passwords on your key accounts, so if someone manages to break into your phone, they’ll still be locked out.

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