Many of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced that sickening jolt of dread and panic when you look for your phone in the place where you think you last left it, and discover, to your horror, that it isn’t there. Whether you have simply misplaced your device, or it has actually been stolen from you, losing your phone is a serious blow and it’s important to react quickly.
The reality is that, these days, we spend so much time on our phones, and use them for so many different purposes – from sending work emails, to ordering takeout or providing entertainment – that when our phone goes missing, it can feel like a piece of us has gone astray.
Of course, a lost or stolen phone is also a major problem because it can represent a significant – and possibly even dangerous – loss of privacy and security. That’s why it’s so important to act fast, and follow these essential steps as soon as possible once you discover that your phone has gone missing.
- Get In Touch
The very first thing you should do, when you realise you no longer have your phone, is to text it or give it a ring. Hopefully, it will only have been misplaced – in which case, it may have been found by a passer-by. They will answer it and you can speak to them and arrange to pick it up.
If no one answers, however, then it may still be lost or, worse, stolen. In this case, you will need to take further action to protect yourself and your sensitive information.
- Track And Lock It
If you had the foresight to set up tracking on your phone before it went missing, then you may be able to locate it, even if it has been stolen. You can also regain virtual control over the device, which gives you the opportunity to secure it – or to remove all of your vital data, if necessary, although this will also mean you lose control over the phone.
- Change Your Passwords
Speaking of passwords, it’s vital that you alter your essential passwords when you find out your phone is missing – whether you think it’s been stolen or not.
At the very least, you should change the password to your email address, and to your account – be it Google, Apple, or any other.
If the device is an iPhone, then you may also want to remove the device from your Apple ID, so that no one else can access your Apple account and the sensitive information it contains.
- Tell The Police
If you have reason to believe that your phone was stolen from you, then you should contact the police right away and report the theft. If you have been able to track the phone, you can pass on any information you have about its whereabouts to the police and hopefully they can retrieve it for you.
It’s important to let them do this, rather than taking things into your own hands. Do not, under any circumstances, try and track down the person who took your phone yourself, as you could be placing yourself in a dangerous situation.
- Inform Your Bank
These days, many of us use our phones to conduct online banking, and we also use our phones rather than our debit cards to pay for everything from groceries to luxury purchases. As a result, if a thief manages to break into your phone, they can easily use it to buy all manner of items and rack up hefty bills on your account.
To prevent this from happening, you should get in touch with your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. They can advise you on what action to take, and they can hopefully also help you with practical steps such as temporarily suspending your mobile banking account, or changing your passwords.
- Report The Loss To Your Mobile Provider
Last but certainly not least, report your missing or stolen phone to your mobile provider. This should ideally be done within the first 24 hours of the phone going missing. If you don’t then your provider might charge you for any texts or calls made by whoever has found or taken your device.
When you contact them, explain what has happened, and they should be able to provide assistance – for instance, by cancelling your SIM, and maybe even providing you with a brand new one.
There’s no denying the fact that losing your phone, or having it stolen, can be an incredibly stressful experience. However, the good news is that there are a number of helpful steps you can take, both to prepare for this kind of event, and to take action if or when it happens.
These simple, practical steps will give you the best possible chance of protecting your sensitive data and preventing this kind of incident from turning into a disaster that breaches your privacy and security.