With mobile phone theft so widespread, here are some tips to help prevent you from getting your phone stolen while you are out, what to do in the event that your phone is stolen, and what you can do right now to make things easier for yourself in case this happens to you.
First, what you can do while on the move to help prevent yourself from becoming a phone theft victim:
- Keep your phone in an internal pocket where possible. Some choose to have their mobile phone in pocket at the back of their jeans – this makes it so much easier to steal. If youkeep it in a bag, make sure it is in a zipped section.
- Watch out for people on bikes and mopeds, and don’t use your phone if someone could speed by and grab it.
- Don’t check your phone as soon as you leave a tube or train station – leave it a while, or walk into a shop. Outside London Tube stations are notorious for phone theft as many travellers often immediately check their messages as soon as they leave the Underground.
- Don’t text and walk – you will be less aware of what is happening around you.
- If you’re talking outside, stand with your back against a wall so no one can come up behind you.
In some cases, if you have an old, small, relatively worthless mobile phone laying around in a drawer somewhere you may even choose to carry it with you in a pocket or a bag so that if someone stops you in the street and demands that you hand over a mobile phone you can give them that one instead. Obviously this won’t work if they have seen you with your brand new iPhone first, and may actually only make them angry, so be careful!
There are some things that you can do now to help yourself In the event that you do get your phone stolen, here’s some things you can do .
Keep details. Make a written record of all your phone information and keep this in a safe place at home. Include the following elements in the information:
- Your phone number
- The make and model of your phone
- Color and appearance details
- The pin or security lock code
- The IMEI number of your phone.
Use the security lock code, or PIN feature, to lock your phone. This will make it less valuable to a casual thief and deny them access to personal numbers stored on you. It may also be possible have your phone set to delete all your data if an incorrect PIN number is entered too many times.
Add a security mark. Adding a security mark to your phone, such as your postcode, using an ultraviolet pen is also a good idea as it makes the device more easily identifiable if something happens to it. Be aware though that this will fade with time. Chances are it will need doing every couple of months.
Use a tracking app. There a number of apps you can add to a smartphone that will enable you to track your device and even delete data remotely. Some of the available apps include:
The Android Lost app. This app will let you remotely read sent and received SMS messages, wipe your phone, lock your phone, erase the SD card and locate the phone by GPS or network.
Android Device Manager. This will help you locate a device that is associated with your Google account and enable you to reset your lock code or erase all the data on it.
For iPhone users, Find my iPhone will allow you to use another iOS device or a PC to show you where your phone is on a map, after which you will be able to protect your data by remotely locking it or deleting everything on it. I use this myself and it’s brilliant. Incidentally, if you lose your phone around the house you can also use this to make your phone play a sound.
And for Windows Phone users, you can go to the My Phone section of the Windows Phone website where you will be able to ring, lock, erase or show your phone on a map from any internet-connected computer.
Then there is BlackBerry. BlackBerry users can download BlackBerry Protect that will help you find your device and keep the information on it secure. If your phone is stolen, you can log in to the BlackBerryProtect website and lock your device, as well as delete the information on the phone itself and the microSD card.
IF YOUR PHONE IS STOLEN.
Register your phone with your network operator. If you are unfortunate enough to have your phone stolen, report the the theft to your network operator immediately. Using your IMEI number, they may be able to block your hand set and account details. Note that while some wireless carriers are willing to do this, others may refuse. If they are willing to do it though, this will prevent anyone from using the phone across any network, even if the thief changes the SIM card.
Before you decide to do this keep in mind that once the phone is disabled, even if you get it back it may not be able to be used again.
You need to keep a record of this call. Note the date, time, the name of the person you spoke to, what they said, and their extension number. Ask for confirmation in writing that your phone has been disabled.This is important in case the thief makes fraudulent charges on your account and the operator tries to send you the bill. If the phone is used to make international calls it could charge literally thousands to your account very quickly so act fast!
In addition to reporting your phone lost or stolen, you should also disable your phone number (not account) so that no further charges can be applied. Again, keep a record of this.
Request an immediate, formal investigation from your network operator. This may help to prevent or at the very least delay the operator from launching a collections effort against any calls the thief may make, which can have a negative affect on your credit rating.
Report the theft to the police immediately. Some phone companies may require proof that the phone was actually stolen and not simply lost. This is partly because someone may try to place costly international calls to friends or relatives abroad, and then claim the phone was stolen to get out of paying their bill. The police can give you an incident number which will serve as evidence of the theft and will make your phone company more cooperative, especially if an insurance claim is going to be involved.
If your phone company isnt cooperating, i.e, they are not disabling your phone or your account in a timely manner after you have requested it and they try to insist that you cover the charges made by the thief, you should tell them you are going to make a complaint to trading standards and OFCOM.
And finally, Never let the phone get out of your sight. Always have your eyes on your phone or its storage location. Unless you are sleeping 🙂
If you are in the UK, the Home Office and Police advise you to also visit ImMobilise. This is free to join service allowing you to register your equipment against your contact details. If recovered, the police are able to access this information and the effect of “If phone stolen IMEI number will be reported” is normally enough for it to be dropped off to the local police station.
IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity and is the 15 digit number unique to your phone, it can be found by looking beneath the battery or by keying in *#06# on most phones.