Losing your cell phone or having it stolen from you is a traumatic experience, but being prepared before that happens can make the situation a bit easier to manage. This tutorial will introduce you to several solutions that you can explore to help you find your lost or stolen cell phone.
N.B. These programs must be downloaded onto the device before it is lost or stolen.
To enable this capability on your Android phone or tablet, simply go to the Find My Device website and log in with your Android device using your Google account.
Once you do this, the lost device will get a notification and you will be able to see on the map on your screen where your device is. This localization is approximate; if the current location of your device can't be found, you will be given its last recorded location, if available.
If you need it, you can choose to click Enable to allow the locking and erasure of your device to prevent a potential thief from accessing your information. You can also choose Play sound, which activates your device's ringer for 5 minutes (even if it's set to vibrate or silent), allowing you to locate it if it is nearby.
Another option is Lock, which locks your device with your PIN, pattern, or password. (If you have not previously set a lock, you can set one at this moment. You can also add a message to your lock screen to help someone who's found your device to return it to you.) Finally, you can select Erase to permanently delete all of the data on your device. Note that after doing this, Find My Device will no longer work for your device.
N.B. To use this service, your device must meet all of the following criteria: be turned on; be signed in to a Google Account; be connected to mobile data (e.g. 3G or 4G) or WiFi; be visible on Google Play; have Location turned on; and have Find My Device turned on.
For Samsung phones, you can either use Android's Find My Device feature or Samsung's similar service, Find My Mobile.
AndroidLost is a mobile application that allows you to locate your Android mobile phone from a website. It is very useful in case of theft or loss. Simply install the application on your phone, and then control the application from the AndroidLost website.
After having installed the app on your mobile device, open your web browser and go Android Lost and sign in. From here you can:
If you've lost a Symbian device, you may have trouble locating your device as this type of phone has been discontinued. Contact your phone operator who may be able to help you.
Microsoft provides a free phone locating service on its official website. Using this service, you can perform several remote actions on your phone, including locating your phone on a map, locking the device, and clearing data stored on the phone.
BlackBerry Protect is a tool that allows you to locate your BlackBerry phone if you ever lose it as well as perform remote actions to secure your data (e.g. lock the phone, wipe all data, etc.). The BlackBerry Protect feature is by default integrated into the operating system of BlackBerry 10 smartphones; for earlier models, you can simply download the application for free.
In the U.S., the four largest phone subscribers are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Unfortunately, these companies do not offer special phone locating services for smartphones, as many of these devices are already equipped with a dedicated feature.
However, if you are trying to locate a basic phone and are a Sprint user, the company provides a Family Locator service that can help.
Some antivirus programs do more than just protect you from viruses. With the right program, you will be able to locate your phone, remotely wipe the information stored on the device, and lock the phone to prevent the use of a new SIM card.
One example of such a program, is Anti-Theft by F Secure. This free software allows you to lock your phone remotely, delete data, and retrieve the phone number of any new SIM card inserted in the phone. It runs on Android, Symbian, Windows.
Two alternatives are Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security and Kaspersky Anti-Virus.
If you think that your lost phone may be nearby, you can make it ring remotely even if you'd previously put it on vibrate or silent.
For BlackBerry phones, use the BlackBerry Protect service. For Apple phones, use Find My iPhone. For Windows Phones, use the Find My Phone option available on the Microsoft website. For Android phone, try using Android's built-in Device Management service or a third-party service like Dring Contact.
You can also sign up for a phone insurance plan, which will cover you for a range of incidents — but not all, so be sure to read all contracts carefully and pay attention to what is covered and, especially, what is not. Some insurance plans will even cover other devices, like cameras and computers.