The not so humble smartphone has become a significant part of our everyday lives. Whether you’re a CEO, a busy parent, a social media addict, or all three, your phone is most likely the control center amongst the chaos, helping you to organize your finances, stay in touch with your family and interact with your friends. It contains your emails, contacts, photos, financial details and more, so having it stolen can be extremely distressing motivating people to take matters into their own hands.
These days, it’s not just the hardware itself that’s valuable to criminals, the data on your phone is worth just as much as its resale price on the black market. According to recent reports, about a 1/2 million smartphones were stolen last year alone in Canada.
If your phone is lost or stolen and you have location services turned on and tied to your account and you are actually able to log on to your account from another device or website you can locate your phone on a map – providing it’s powered on and connected to the Internet. Apple’s “Find my iPhone” app tracks your phone’s location in real time using GPS technology. Android has similar apps that will do the same thing as well.
While these apps can be incredibly useful, they can also make users feel more powerful than they are. Police are now urging the public to avoid confronting thieves themselves when using these apps. About a year ago an 18 year-old London, Ont. teen tracked down his iPhone using the “Find my iPhone” app and it ended with him losing his life.
The safest way to deal with a lost phone is to locate your device if you had your location services turned on and connected to your account.
Next you want to do is contact your Carrier to let them know. They will be able to help you deactivate your device and wipe it clean of your personal information rendering the phone useless to whoever has stolen it from you. Devices that are reported missing to a service provider are normally placed on a national blacklist, preventing it from working on any Canadian wireless networks. If you go to the website: www.protectyourdata.ca you can find out further information on nation-wide mobile phone blacklists and how it can help you when your phone goes stolen.
Finally, you want to file a police report at your local law enforcement agency. Although police may not investigate every individual case of a missing phone, if someone is arrested and found in possession of numerous devices or your phone is found in a pawn shop, it will be easier for them to trace each device back to its rightful owner.
Some preventative measures people should follow that might make the lost phone process easier on them would be to have the phone protected with a strong password or figure print. Also, before your phone even has a chance to go missing, you should find out your international mobile equipment identification number, or IMEI. In simple terms, its your phone’s electronic serial number. Your IMEI number is what you will need to give to your service provider or local law enforcement agency in order to report it missing, so you should write it down and store it somewhere safe.
To find your IMEI on most devices, dial *#0 6#, and the number should appear on your screen. Otherwise, the number should be printed somewhere on the phone.
The bottom line is you really don’t want to take matters into your own hands and put yourself into an unsafe situation by using your phone’s GPS to track it down to confront the thief. Let the authorities take care of that.
If the police can’t or won’t help find your missing phone, you should just let your insurance plan cover the loss — and if you don’t have insurance, the best thing to do is accept your phone is gone. Yes, you don’t want to lose a phone that costs multiple hundreds of dollars, but I’d rather have lost my phone than my life.