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Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

What to Do When You Lose Your Phone

Misplacing your smartphone – or worse, having it stolen – can be a frustrating and upsetting experience. Minimize your risk for data loss by taking preventive action to secure your device and familiarize yourself with what to do once you realize your phone is missing.

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Be Prepared: Take Preemptive Measures Before You Lose Your Phone

Activate phone tracking. Androids and iPhones both include a built-in tool that lets you track your phone from another device or via an internet login. On iOS, this feature is called "Find My iPhone" and can be activated through Settings by tapping your name at the top of the screen and then choosing "Find My" from the menu. On Androids, this feature is called "Find My Device" and can be enabled under the "Security & Location" menu in Settings.

Use your lock screen to limit unauthorized access. From social media accounts to email, many of us are automatically signed into apps on our phones. Should someone pick up your phone, the lock screen is the first barrier to prevent them from freely accessing these apps. Depending on your smartphone, you can choose from different lock screen settings, including a face ID, fingerprint, pin, or pattern.

Increase the likelihood of return. You can add a default message to your lock screen with alternate contact information, like a spouse's phone number, so if your device is lost it's easier to be returned.

You've Lost Your Phone: What to Do Now

Determine your phone's location. Assuming you already activated phone tracking, the first step is to identify your phone's location. Use the "Find my iPhone" or "Find My Device," either through an app on another device like a tablet or by logging in to your account on the Internet. If you're in the same location as the device – you've misplaced it in your home, for example – you can have the phone play a loud sound to help you locate it.

Mark your device lost. If you've lost your phone somewhere in public – a coffee shop or grocery store, for example – you can remotely mark your device as missing. Doing so will display a custom message on the lock screen that this phone has been lost. You can add an alternate number to contact for the return, such as a family member or close friend.

Remotely wipe the memory. If you're confident your missing device has been stolen and won't be returned, you can remotely wipe the memory. Doing so will remove all your data from the device, including photos, passwords, and apps. On both Android and iPhones, when you remotely wipe the memory, you will also lose the ability to track your device's location, so this is a step to take only when you're confident the device is permanently gone. Additionally, keep in mind that to remotely wipe your device's memory, the device will need to be turned on and connected to mobile data or a WiFi network. If your device's battery dies, for example, you won't be able to remotely wipe the memory.

Change your passwords. If phone tracking is not activated on your device, immediately change all passwords associated with the device and any apps. For example, on an iPhone, immediately change your Apple ID password to prevent anyone from accessing your iCloud data or using other features, like iMessage. Change passwords for your email account and other apps, like social media.

Report your lost or stolen device to your wireless carrier. Your wireless carrier can disable your account to prevent unauthorized calls, text, and data usage. You can call your carrier using another phone or use their website to login into your account and report it as missing.

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