According to a recent Horizon Research survey, adult smartphone ownership in New Zealand is at approximately 70% and estimated to be almost 80% by September this year – you might even be reading this on one right now. But would you know what to do if you lost your mobile, or worse, had it stolen?
According to a 2014 survey by netsafe.org.nz, 25% of survey respondents admitted to having lost a mobile, with the security of the handset and the contacts, data and apps within being a big concern for individuals – not to mention businesses that have provided a phone to a somewhat careless employee.
Not only does loss or theft of your phone mean inconvenience and replacement cost, the information that you have on your phone can be used to commit identity theft. Fortunately, with a few simple steps, you can help to keep your phone secure and possibly even retrieve it.
How to secure your phone
The easiest and simplest step is to enable your mobile phone’s password protection. This secures your phone with a pin code or pattern lock and protects the contents of your phone from anyone who doesn’t know the password. This in and of itself may be enough to deter many thieves, as a locked phone is useless to them. Make sure however, that your password is not simple or easily guessed; don’t use 1234 for example, or your birthdate.
Hopefully, you have backed your phone up on a regular basis so that the photos, phone numbers, email addresses and myriad of other “stuff” commonly kept on a smartphone is still accessible to you…
If your phone has been stolen…
If you suspect that your phone has been stolen, you should contact both the police and notify your carrier – the company that provided your SIM card. Your carrier can put a block on your phone, preventing the thief from racking up a large phone bill. There are two types of blocks that can be put in place, an IMEI block, which completely blocks the phone from accessing the network, and a SIM block, which only blocks your individual SIM, but allows the phone to be used if it is replaced. If you recover your phone, the block can then be removed.
Unfortunately, your carrier cannot track your mobile phone for you. However, most smartphones can install apps to help you track your phone in real time. Apple’s Find My iPhone, Android’s Device Manager, and third party apps like Cerebus can all play your ringtone, provide you with GPS data and even remotely lock and wipe your data, helping you to find or at least secure your phone.
Some even allow you to take pictures and record audio remotely, which might help the police find the thief.
Thanks to the rise in use of blocking and tracking technology, the theft of mobile phones is decreasing. Nevertheless, it pays to be vigilant, and not leave your phone anywhere where unscrupulous people might be tempted. Preventing theft is always easier than dealing with it once it happens.