Losing an iPhone or having it stolen is an experience nobody wants to go through. Aside from the feeling of confusion and desperation when losing a phone, there also comes the several consequences like the loss of data and security, the risk of identity theft, and the costs of purchasing a new phone.
However, you are not completely helpless if your iPhone got lost or stolen. There are some things that you can do to try locating and retrieving your smartphone, or at least protecting your data and information. Here are 5 do’s and don’ts that you need to remember when dealing with a lost iPhone.
DO: Use the Find My iPhone to track your device.
Locating your iPhone through the Find My app is your first tool of defense when it gets lost or stolen. Log in to iCloud.com/find or use the Find My app on another Apple device. You can pinpoint an approximate location of your iPhone, and you can also mark it as Lost.
This will remotely lock your iPhone with a passcode and keep track of its location. It will also suspend the ability to make payments using Apple Pay, useful if you have credit or debit card information saved on your device.
DON’T: Break down.
We know that losing a phone can be very devastating. All the consequences of losing a phone definitely take a heavy toll on anyone who has undergone this experience, but getting back your iPhone will need you to be mentally present and alert. Feel what you need to feel, but don’t let your emotions hinder you from the task at hand.
DO: Immediately report your loss to local law enforcement.
Whether your phone was lost criminally (i.e. stolen) or not, you have to report it to head to the nearest precinct and file a police report. For non-criminal loss, police would file a “lost property” report. Law enforcement officers usually ask for device identifiers like make, model, ESN/PIN, serial number, and other identifiable characteristics, so make sure to have those details in hand.
In most cases, if there are no strong leads or physical evidence, these police reports are done only as a courtesy to the victim for insurance purposes. Still, this is the best course of action to take without having to interact with the criminal or unauthorized user.
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DON’T: Try to recover your iPhone yourself.
If you were able to locate your iPhone to a place that wasn’t where you lost it, don’t attempt to go to that place all alone. You’re only putting yourself to unnecessary risk for a lead that doesn’t guarantee that you will get your device back.
Get help from your local law enforcement. You can inform the officer of any updates that may help their investigation, but your physical involvement should end after filing the police report. Be vigilant, but don’t be a vigilante and start confronting people you suspect of having your iPhone.
DO: Report your loss to your wireless carrier.
Whether or not your iPhone was purchased through a wireless carrier plan, you must report your loss to your carrier. Your carrier can limit or disable your account to prevent any unauthorized texts, calls, or data usage using your mobile number. This prevents the criminal or unauthorized user from posing as you and contacting any of your friends and family.
DON’T: Make contact with the unauthorized user.
If the unauthorized user does contact you or your loved ones, do not try to engage in conversation or negotiation, especially if the user is trying to extort a monetary reward for you to receive back your iPhone.
In cases like this, the person usually does not have your best interests at heart if they try to negotiate something out of the situation. More importantly, never agree to meet with the person alone when receiving your device.
If the user contacts you solely to return your iPhone with no other motives, arrange a meeting to have them turn in your phone to law enforcement or at least to a public place to minimize the risks.
DO: Remove your credit card information.
Many criminals who steal iPhones target their victim’s banking information to extort. Removing all of your saved bank and card information on your iPhone must be one of your priorities when you’ve lost your device or had it stolen.
When you mark your iPhone as Lost from the Find My app, this automatically suspends Apple Pay’s payment functions. You can further make sure to stop unauthorized card activity by removing all of your cards saved on Apple Pay and Wallet through iCloud.
DON’T: Click on any link that requires inputting your credentials.
Criminals are getting smarter than ever in terms of their modus operandi. Because they know you will be locking your iPhone through the Find My app, they subscribe to other measures of opening your iPhone.
One of the most common is they’ll send legit-looking SMS or emails to your contacts saying that your device has been recovered, and that you’ll need to click a link and input your Apple ID and password to get it back.
The catch is, Apple does not send text alerts when your iPhone has been stolen or recovered. Never input your account information other than in legitimate Apple websites.
DO: Log out from your accounts and change your passwords immediately.
In conjunction with protecting your financial info, you should also do measures to protect your personal accounts, like your email and social media accounts, to prevent being a victim of hacking and identity theft.
Change your passwords immediately to prevent getting locked out of your account. There are some sites that allow you to log out of all your devices, including your lost iPhone.
DON’T: Erase your iPhone from your Apple ID haphazardly.
Erasing your iPhone must be your last resort and should be done only if you’re now just protecting your data and are no longer planning to retrieve your iPhone.
Erasing your iPhone means that ALL information is deleted from the device. This also means that you can no longer track the device through the Find My app. Only erase your iPhone if you’re 100% certain and ready to let go of your device.
Do you have any other do’s and don’ts when an iPhone gets stolen? What other tips do you have to prevent losing your smartphone? Share them with us below.