Lost your phone?! Here’s what to do

Did you know that the world’s first smartphone was actually invented by IBM in 1992? Released for purchase in 1994, it was called the Simon Personal Communicator. However, it wasn’t until 15 years later – when Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007 – that smartphones really came to public attention.

And what attention they have claimed since then! Not only have there been 34 iPhones since then, but many other manufacturers including Samsung, Huawei, Nokia, Sony, LG, HTC and Motorola – to name just a few – now also make smartphones. Competition is fierce, and new products are being launched all the time.

Day by day we rely increasingly on our phones. Not just for calls and texts, but also for internet browsing and shopping, emails, social media, contacts, photos, calendars, maps . . . and so it goes on. And every day more apps are being developed to cover almost every area of our lives.

It’s true to say that, for most of us, our lives are on our phones. So what do you do if you lose your phone?

On average, an adult in the UK is likely to lose or have stolen two mobile phones during their lifetime. This most commonly happens in bars, restaurants, on public transport; or simply just dropping or leaving it when out and about.

In this article we take a look at:

  • Three ways to protect your phone from getting lost or stolen.

  • Three ways to prepare in advance for your phone getting lost or stolen.

  • Three things to do if your phone gets lost or stolen.

Three ways to protect your phone from getting lost or stolen

There are three ways that you can give yourself the best chance of not losing your phone or having it stolen. They can also help your phone to find its way back to you if the worst does happen:Keep it out of sight

This sounds very obvious but you can prevent most loss or theft just by being aware of where your phone is at all times, and keeping it safe. Don’t have it out unless you need it, but keep it in a secure inner pocket or a closed bag. This in itself will minimise the risk of either dropping it or having it snatched.

  • Customise your lock screen

Many smartphones enable you to customise your lock screen. You may be able to do this either through your phone settings or the Find my Phone feature. If your phone enables you to do this, you could put a message or screenshot of contact details that someone can use if they find your phone.

  • Register your phone

The UK has a national property register called Immobilise where all valuable items can be registered for free. This increases the chances of getting them back to you if they are found. 

To register your phone, all you need is its IMEI number. This is a 15-17 digit identity number which you can find either through your phone settings or by texting #06# to reveal the number.

Three ways to prepare in advance for your phone getting lost or stolen

It is worth spending a bit of time preparing for the worst. Then if your phone does get lost or stolen it will be much easier to sort out:

  • Backup your data

Most smartphone manufacturers offer backup storage facilities, such as iCloud, Google Drive, or Samsung Cloud, that you can synchronise with your phone. This means that everything on your phone – photos, contact details etc – will be saved in another place as well as on your phone. Take time to understand how often your data will be backed up and whether this will happen automatically or if there is anything that you need to do manually.

  • Use Find My Phone

Most smartphones have a “Find My Phone” feature. Check your phone settings to locate and enable this. You will then be able to link the feature to one or more other devices. If you do lose your phone, these devices can help you try and track where it is.

  • Insure your phone

You may also want to look into mobile phone insurance. You may already be covered either by your home insurance policy or a bank account benefit. But if not, many companies offer mobile phone insurance, usually costing around £8-£9 per month.

Mobile phone insurance covers your phone if it is lost, stolen or damaged and gives you the security of someone to call on for help if the worst should happen. Just make sure that you keep the insurer up to date with all the details of your phone so that if anything does happen, you won’t be scrambling around for information. 

Three things to do if your phone gets lost or stolen

Hopefully the above will help to prevent your phone getting lost or stolen, and limit the damage and inconvenience if it does. But if it does happen, there are three things you need to do:

  • Use Find My Phone

We mentioned this feature earlier, and if you have enabled it, you can use another linked device to either ping your phone or locate it on a map. If it turns out that you have simply left it somewhere, this can be a quick and easy way to find it.

  • Contact your network provider

If you can’t find your phone quickly, the next thing to do is report it missing to your network provider. They will be able to cancel your phone’s SIM so that no-one else will be able to use it, and you don’t risk having to pay for someone else’s unauthorised use of your phone. If your phone turns up again, your network provider will usually be able to reactivate it quickly for you.

But you need to let your network provider know as soon as possible because most of them will charge you for any use of the phone between you losing it and reporting it missing. They may limit this to £100 if you report it within 24 hours, but you will still be out of pocket.

  • Report it to your insurance company and/or the police

If you have mobile phone insurance, you also need to report its loss or theft to your insurance provider so they can begin to sort out a replacement phone for you.

And if you suspect that your phone has been stolen you should report this to the police either in person or by calling 101. You will then be given a crime reference number, which your insurance provider is also likely to need.

We hope that your phone is never lost or stolen. But being prepared for that eventuality can make things run much more smoothly if the worst does happen. So we hope that the above information helps you to do just that.

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