It’s a sad reality but when the holidays are nearing, the crime rates go up. Just recently, my sister’s phone got stolen right in our own home. Though I knew it was an old model and could have been easily replaced, but I still tried my best to find out if there is a way to retrieve it.
My curiosity led me to a few ways to track phones, delete the information stored in it (because there is nothing creepier than knowing a stranger is walking around with your email and Facebook details), and, if you’re lucky, even catch the culprit.
#1 Get syncing
Your cellphone isn’t just connected to an online storage system just so you can get social media updates automatically. It’s also there to help you secure the information in your phone.
For Android users, you can log on to Google Drive and see when your device was last online. From that link, you can give your phone a ring, lock the device, or erase the information you’ve stored in it. The same can be done for iPhone users. Check out iCloud to perform the same security check for your missing Apple device.
The only difficulty here is that both of the links won’t be able to connect to your phone sans a WiFi connection. Also, most snatchers are smart enough to switch off your phone when they get it so it’s best to hit “Erase” immediately on the links I provided. You may not be able to track your device that way, but it’s better to let go, unless you want something worse to happen, which leads me to the second item on this list.
#2 Change your passwords
The thing about my sister’s phone was that it was a hand-me-down and when I gave it to her, I had forgotten to log out of the Facebook and Messenger apps.
Things got spooky when another person kept sending random messages to my friends and when one of them called me over Messenger, a guy answered. It was only then that I pieced together how the guy who stole my phone was using the unit to lurk over my Facebook.
I then immediately changed all the passwords to all my online accounts, from my Facebook account to my email. Doing this will automatically log-out your accounts on other devices. I also checked the settings found in each app to see if he’s been changing other information or sending messages as well. Luckily, he didn’t do anything worse than send out random messages.
I also sent out word to most of my friends about what happened so they could be vigilant in finding people using my name and information somewhere else.
#3 There’s always a safety app for that
If you want to take your security a step further, you can always ask your friends and family to download a stolen phone tracker app on their phones. Different apps are available for both iPhone and Android devices, all suited for your specific needs.
For Android users, you can get the Find My Lost Phone. Register then add all your and your family members’ important devices. You can also go to the app’s website to track your devices via GPS.
Similarly, iPhone users can download the Find My iPhone app. Both apps are also good precautions to locate family members and friends in case they became unreachable through their mobile phones.
#4 Know your phone’s unique code
If you want to cause a little revenge to the thief, it’s useful to know your phone’s IMEI number. IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity, and is a code unique to each cellular phone worldwide. To know this, just type *#06# on your phone and it will instantly show up on your screen, or you can also inspect the battery compartment of your phone to find the sticker where the IMEI is indicated.
Keep the number in a journal or on a separate device. Once your phone is stolen, register the IMEI on the IMEI website as a blacklisted phone. When you do this, a signal will be sent to your phone making it unusable no matter what SIM card the new “owner” installs in your phone. The number is also useful when you want to beef up your police report since it proves the ownership you have over the device.