Losing a phone can throw your mind into a straight panic mode, not just due to losing important contacts and work information, but primarily due to loss of security.
And while locating your lost or stolen phone can be a mentally exhausting and humongous task, a few precautions or hacks can be of help.
Three things are of vital importance if you want to trace your phone when lost. It needs to have an active data/internet connection, your GPS has to be turned on, and you need to be logged into your google account on the phone.
Have an Android phone? Your google account can help you locate your phone if it is signed in. Ensure that you go to your phone settings and switch on ‘Find My Device’. You will find it in Settings> Security> Lock screen. Tap on Device Administrators. You will see Find My Device under this tab. Ensure the toggle is always on.
Next step is to go to Settings >Turn your location on> Switch it to High Accuracy.
Next, go to Google Location History> Switch on ‘Use Location History’.
Follow the same for your phone settings too.
These steps will ensure that your phone gives you accurate location details.
Now how do you find your phone using Google?
Log on to your browser from another device– mobile or PC. Go to www.android.com/find and sign into your google account.
Once in, the window will show you all the devices connected to your google account. Check the device you have lost or misplaced. There will be three options next to the device’s name.
Most importantly, there will be a google map showing the current location of your device. If the location has been switched off, it will show you the last location recorded by your device before getting disconnected from the Internet or being switched off.
If your phone is still connected, you may go for two options.
The first one being – Play sound. This will help your phone ring for five minutes even if it is on silent mode. This can be helpful when you have misplaced your phone, and you cannot find it anywhere close to you.
2) The second option is to secure your device. This is helpful for those who do not lock their phones properly. While you can set a password remotely on your device, you cannot reset fingerprint or face unlock methods.
The third option is useful, when none of the above work, and you are convinced that you won’t be able to reach your phone.
Erase your device. This will erase all the data on your phone.
If you think that none of the above options is working, it is because your phone is either switched off or it has lost data connection. Your final bet in such a case is to turn to the police and file a complaint.
What else do I need to keep handy in case I want to block my lost or stolen phone?
Get your IMEI number and keep it safe. The IMEI code is a 15 to 17-digit number that is unique to each phone. When you contact your telecom provider to block your SIM card, you will have to give them this code.
Don’t know what your IMEI number is?
Usually, this number comes with the packaging of your phone or on the bill. If you don’t find any of these, keep it handy when you first use a device by dialling *#06#. Once it appears, write it and keep it safely offline too.
Change your PIN & PUK CODES from the default settings.
What is a PIN (Personal Identification Number)? It is a 4-digit security code that you enter every time you switch on your phone. Most phones come with a default code of 0000. Change it to a number you will remember. To do that, go to Settings>Security on your phone and change the PIN.
In case of theft, if your PIN is punched wrong thrice, your SIM Card will be blocked automatically. This can only happen in cases where you have selected Set up SIM card lock on your phone through Settings>Security.
Only your PUK (Personal Unlock Key) code, if kept with you, can help you reactivate your SIM.
This code usually comes with your SIM card; if you don’t find it, you can procure it from your telecom provider either online or on call after submitting your client code or bill.
Want to erase your device?
Apple users can do it using their iCloud account. Keep your Apple ID handy for the purpose. It will erase data quickly if your device is online. If it disconnected from the internet, it would erase it the next time your device comes online.
You can erase data off your Android device using the Device Manager. In this case, though, data only stored on your Google account can be erased. It may not be able to delete data on your external SD card.
What are the other apps I can download to track my phone?
If you’re using an iOS device: Download apps like iPhonetrace using the IMEI, find my iPhone or Lookout to track your device.
Using an android device? Track it with Android Device Manager. You have to install it on your phone and then use it by signing into your Google account. You can even use Lookout or Find My Lost Phone.
What is the other step to follow if my phone is lost or stolen?
Get in touch with your telecom provider to block your SIM card. This will avoid fraudulent use of your data. You have to submit your telephone number, ID proof and client code for this.
File a complaint at the nearest police station. Submit your IMEI code and describe your handset. Make a copy of this report to send it to your telecom provider.
If this story interested you, read about how this Mumbai teen successfully recovered her stolen phone and caught the phone thief as he was about to flee the city.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)