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What to do if your phone is lost or stolen
16 Jul 19
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"I don’t know who you are, but I will find you and…

Sorry, my guy - you’re no Liam Neeson. If someone takes your phone, you’re probably thinking that that’s the end of it. Maybe a quick trip to the police station has crossed your mind. But what about your personal information? Your mobile phone had some important stuff on it! Well, all is not lost – for now, it’s just your phone. Phonefinder cares about you getting the most out of your cell phone deal and that means keeping it. So, Phil’s Phonefinder guide to finding your lost or stolen phone offers you the full rundown of what to do to get your cell phone back.

Help Me Find My Phone!

Before you go sleuthing for your missing device, there are some things you should do first. Check off this list of immediate to-dos before you do anything else: 

1. Report the theft
If your phone has been stolen, your first port of call must be a police station. You need to report the crime as soon as possible to get a case number in order to claim from your insurance company – that is, if you decided to insure your smartphone when you were signing up for other value added services. If not, it is still important that you let the police know your phone has been taken. Best case scenario, they get your phone back (stop laughing – it does happen… I think); otherwise, your case could help the law crack down on thieves selling stolen phones – making you a hero (or at least, the hero’s sidekick).


2. Contact your bank
If you have any finance apps on your device (because who doesn’t these days), you’d better let your bank know that your phone has been lost and that the thieves may use your online banking information. Your bank would also be able to tell you what further steps you can take to reduce the risk of your account details leaking anywhere else.


3. Protect your personal documents
We save a lot of important information on our smartphones these days. While you can probably protect what’s in your phone with a reliable antivirus app, there’s not much you can do to protect that information if your device is in someone else’s hands. Many of this year’s new smartphones have security features built into the hardware, but for those of us, who haven’t gotten their hands on those (yet), there are other ways to protect our secrets. If your lost or stolen phone holds scans of your personal documents, you can register said documents with the Southern African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) over the phone (011 867 2234) or their website. If you’re too late with that and you find yourself in a spot of financial fraud, contact the Credit Ombudsman to sort out any drama with your credit providers.


4. Change your passwords
Make a list of all your online accounts and then change your passwords to those accounts. Just don’t make them all the same please. Also, don’t make these changes on a public network, unless you have a good VPN on your side.



5. IMEI
The IMEI number of a mobile phone is your phone’s serial number. You can ask your service provider to give you your phone’s IMEI, which you can then add to a free global database. If some good Samaritan happens to find your phone, that person can use your IMEI number to contact you. Alternatively, you can get sweet, sweet vengeance on your phone-jackers by asking your service provider to block your SIM card, thereby turning your nifty smartphone into an expensive paperweight as no one can make calls on a blocked SIM. Once you have a case number from the police, you can also ask your service provider to blacklist your smartphone, making it impossible for the thieves to resell it and worthless for anyone trying to use it.

How To Track A Stolen Phone

Locate My Android

Get the jump on your phone thieves by tracking your Samsung or Huawei. You don’t even have to install a special app to pull this off. However, it is important that your smartphone is connected to your Google Play account and has internet access.
Otherwise, all you need to track your smartphone is a laptop or another Android device:

  1. Log onto the Android Device Manager website or app.
  2. Once you’ve logged on, you can either make your phone ring or enable the "Lock & Erase” feature.
Yes, it is that easy!


Locate My iPhone

To hunt down your iPhone, you’ll first have to make sure that you’ve already activated the Find My iPhone app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. This cloud-based service can help you track your device by providing a location.
However, if you don’t have this app on one of your Apple devices – don’t panic! – just go to icloud.com and:

  1. Log on with your Apple ID.
  2. Once you’ve logged on, look for the "Find My iPhone” icon.
  3. When the Find My iPhone interface is open, select your device from the "All Devices” drop-down menu.
  4. You can now track your missing iPhone, which should show up on a map. Now, you have the option to
    • Play a sound off your device,
    • Activate "Lost Mode”, which puts your device on lockdown with a customised message containing a contact number (or taunting the thieves), or
    • Erase all your data (keep in mind that this will make your device completely useless hereafter).
  5. Again, keep in mind that this option will only work if your stolen/lost device is connected to the internet. If your device is not connected to the internet at the time you have logged on icloud.com, Apple will notify you when your device is online, so you can get a location.
Finally, once you’ve tracked down your mobile phone’s location, communicate this with the police. Do not try to confront the thieves yourself; you could end up in a very dangerous situation.

Final word from Phil


Of course, it would be for the best if you didn’t lose your smartphone to begin with so here are some last tips on how to keep from becoming a victim of cellphone theft:

  • While it’s understandable that you’d want to show off your sexy, new smartphone, don’t!
  • Don’t leave your mobile phone on the dashboard or passenger seat of your car while driving and don’t leave it in full view when your vehicle is unattended.
  • Don’t leave your phone unattended on a restaurant table or in any public space.
  • Try carrying your phone in your pocket instead of a handbag.
  • Be weary of drawing unwanted attention to your phone when wearing a belt-clip.
Also, pay attention to the following:
  • Insure your phone against theft.
  • Make a note of your phone’s serial number and keep it in a safe place.
  • Ensure your phone’s safety measures have been activated (PIN, fingerprint, etc.).
  • If a mobile phone is sold without a charger, it’s likely you’re being sold a stolen phone.
In other words, don’t be an idiot. Buy your mobile phone from a dealer you can trust – like Phonefinder!



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