The Definitive Guide to Your Lost Phone
So you lost your phone. Hey, it’s cool. It happens. No need to panic.
There is a right way to handle this and a wrong way. The latter involves sitting back, putting on an episode of True Detective, and waiting for your phone to find its way home like some sort of lost pet.
Unfortunately, the chances that your lost phone will be returned unaided are pretty slim. Even worse, the chances that the person who finds your phone will try to access your personal information are really high.
How do we know? Well… because… science.
A security company called Symantec recently ran an experiment called “Honey Stick”, where they intentionally lost smartphones and monitored what happened to them. They found that if a stranger finds your phone, they will probably try to access some of your personal information and they will probably not make contact with you about your lost phone. Bummer, right?
So what is the right way to handle a lost phone? Take some deep breaths and let us guide you.
Let’s assume that you haven’t yet lost your phone. You just know, given your past experiences, that there is a distinct possibility you will lose it eventually. There is a lot you can do today to save your future-self stress.
If you haven’t already, you should set a passcode on your phone. Aside from protecting against your every-day snoops, setting a passcode blocks strangers from accessing your personal information if you lose your phone.
Second, make sure your phone is backed up to the cloud. You can set this up to be done automatically in your iPhone’s Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup. In the event you need to remotely wipe the phone of all its data, you will still have access to your contacts, messages, and pictures of all those special moments you shared with your cat.
Actually Finding Your Lost Phone
There are about a million apps for this. Our favorite is the classic: Apple’s Find My iPhone. If you have another iOS device, like an iPad, download the app to locate your phone. Otherwise, you can use your computer to access the Find My iPhone function on iCloud.com.
It’s important to know that you can use Find My iPhone even if you haven’t installed it on your iPhone before you lost it. As long as the device is registered to your iCloud account, you can activate Find My iPhone remotely from iClould.com. It’s basically magic.
As soon as you realize your phone is missing, use Find My iPhone to activate “Lost Mode”, which finds your phone on Apple Maps and allows you to track its movements.
The Lost Mode feature immediately locks your device and displays a message with a contact number. The lock screen is enabled so that whoever finds your phone can only call the contact number you provided and nothing else. Your private information is safe.
If you’d rather be safest than sorry, Find My iPhone lets you remotely wipe the phone and restore it to its factory settings. With all of your personal information gone, your phone will still display your custom message with your contact number. Hopefully whoever has it will pull through and call.
If Hope is Lost
If you’re convinced your phone is gone and never coming back, the next step is to call your carrier. They will be able to place your phone’s IMEI number on Canada’s blacklist for lost or stolen devices. Once a phone is placed on the blacklist it can’t be activated by a carrier for use, so the device will be worthless to its new owners.
After blacklisting your phone, the only thing left to do now is heal. In the words of Pablo Neruda: love is so short, forgetting is so long.
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