Games, photos, social media, email, and, of course, your bank account. Today our smartphones store these items in one easy-to-use place. While many of us can't go an hour without checking our phones, the ease of data access is a double-edged sword if you lose the device. If a thief gains access to your phone, he or she will find much more than just your contact list.
Consumer groups across the country are reporting that the theft of mobile devices is on the rise. Criminals are discovering new ways to turn off iPhone anti-theft software and re-sell your device for a good price on the black market.
Use this checklist to keep your personal information safe if you can't find your phone:
- Call it. This step may sound elementary, but really, you should call your phone. If it's not stolen and simply misplaced, you can save yourself a lot of trouble.
- Lock it. If you don't have success from step 1, then you need to take precautions in case your phone is sitting with a thief. Use the find my iPhone or Android device manager systems to locate your phone and lock your personal information.
- Call your financial institution. Even if you're successful in locking your phone, you should still call your credit union or bank and ask them to freeze your mobile banking feature. If a criminal gets access to your online bank account, he or she will be able to make transfers, open lines of credit, order debit cards or checks and more.
- Report it. While it may be low on law enforcement's priority list, official documentation can serve as helpful evidence for you in an identity theft claim.
- Log out. Log out of email, social media and other online accounts. Remember: Most apps have a feature to track where you last logged in from; this may prove to be helpful in your search for the missing device.
- Wipe it and start over: Regardless of the chance of your phone being found, you should wipe it and buy a new one right way.