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9 Things You Should Do After Losing Your Phone

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“I’ve lost my phone!” is an all-too-common lament. It’s not really surprising: smartphones are small devices and easily misplaced. They’re also expensive to replace and filled with sensitive data that could be used by the unscrupulous for fraud or identity theft. While it’s best to keep careful track of your phone, accidental loss or even phone theft can happen to anyone. Knowing what to do when a phone is lost increases your chance of recovering the device, or at least not comprising your data. So here’s how to find a lost cell phone, and what to do if you can’t find the missing device.

 

  • Call or Text the Phone

 

As soon as you realize you’ve misplaced your phone, call or text the phone from another device. Sometimes that’s all you need to do: If the phone is nearby (and your phone volume isn’t muted), you might hear the ringtone.

There’s another reason to call or text as soon as possible. Someone may have found your phone and is trying to get it back to you. If your phone is locked, the only way they can contact you is if the phone rings before the battery dies. So don’t panic or run down the street yelling “I lost my Verizon phone!” Place a call and hope someone picks up. 

 

  • Lock the Phone Remotely

 

If no one answers your phone, or if you think the phone is stolen, lock it down remotely through another device. For a lost Android phone log into Android Device Manager. iPhone users can use Find My Phone.

These systems do more than lock your phone. You can also use them to set up a lock-screen message with contact information should someone find your phone and want to return it. Use another phone number or email as contact information rather than your address. 

 

  • Retrace Your Steps

 

Think about when you last saw your phone and retrace your steps. Either visit a location where your phone might be or call and ask people to look for it. Most businesses will happily look for a lost phone and contact the owner if they find it. 

 

  • Use Your Phone’s GPS 

 

If your phone’s GPS setting is active, you may be able to track the phone’s location via a phone GPS locating service. Android Device Manager and Find My iPhone can also track phones by GPS settings.

 

  • Remotely Wipe Your Device

 

If you don’t have your phone protected by a password or biometrics like Apple’s Face ID, anyone can access your personal data. The idea of a stranger going through your photos, texts, and private information is pretty creepy, not to mention someone could use your phone to access your bank account or other sensitive accounts. Use Android Device Manager or Find My Phone to wipe your data (as long as you’ve backed up your phone recently you won’t lose much information).

 

  • Call Your Service Provider

 

If you cannot find your phone, or if you suspect your phone has been stolen, contact your service provider and ask them to suspend service. This prevents anyone from using your phone to make calls. For instance, if you’re dealing with a Verizon lost phone either contact Verizon directly at (800) 922-0204 or log in to My Verizon to report the phone lost or stolen and suspend service. 

 

  • Change Your Passwords

 

Even if you have your missing phone locked down, play it safe and change the passwords on your banking, social media, and other private information, just in case someone was able to access your data. Better safe than sorry.

 

  • Make a Police Report

 

If you think your phone was stolen, file a police report. Yes, it’s a longshot, but stolen phones have been returned because their owners filed police reports in the past. 

 

  • Submit an Insurance Claim

 

Hopefully, you set up an insurance plan for your phone before it went missing. Verizon lost phone insurance, for instance, is an affordable service that protects phones against loss, theft, and damage. If your phone isn’t insured, please consider enrolling in GoWireless ready to go program or a similar Verizon’s lost phone insurance plan. You have to pay a deductible if you make a claim, but that’s a small price to pay for a replacement phone.