Lost your phone? Here’s how to find it
It happens to us all at some point of our wired lives. That smartphone that is always there for us — to tell the time, hold our precious photos, play our best music, do our banking, send important work emails, hold all our contacts, text our friends, make an actual phone call and keep us connected to everything we care about day and night — is gone. If we’re lucky, we just forgot it at home. But maybe we left it behind in a crowded bar. Or even worse, someone flat-out stole it. About 100 smartphones are lost or stolen in the USA every single minute. It literally happens all the time. Now what?
Take a few deep breaths and dive in to this list. Although it may feel like it, losing your phone isn’t the end of the world, and there are some great new techy ways to help you find it.
JUST GOOGLE IT
If you have an Android phone with Android Device Manager, it’s as easy as Googling “find my phone.” Google will pull up a map and give you the option to ring, lock or erase it. Erasing is kind of drastic, so you might want to start with locking it remotely, then using the map to find it. If you’re not having any luck with that or too much time has passed, you can wipe your phone remotely and reset it to factory settings, so whoever has it can’t access any of your apps or information. FYI: After you reset your phone, this “find my phone” function won’t work anymore — so use it as a last resort.
ON AN iPHONE
On an iPhone, you can use the Find My Phone app, but you don’t need to have it installed for this method to work — you just need “Find My Phone” activated on your device. From there, you go to iCloud, log in and click the Find My Phone app. Pick the device you’ve lost, and you should be able to see it on the map. Set your device to Lost mode, and that will lock it and show a screen with your plea for help and a number for some (hopefully) kind human to get in touch with you. Just like on Android, you have the option to wipe your phone’s data.
IF YOU THINK IT’S BEEN STOLEN…
One of the things a lot of people don’t think about when their phone goes missing is calling their service provider and reporting the phone stolen, so they don’t get charged for what’s done while it’s out of their hands. Also,the provider will be able to blacklistthe phone to keep it from being reactivated. Call the police and report it stolen as well, and give them the location information if you have it. It’s dangerous to confront thieves on your own.
When I went through all of this recently, what saved me was having it password-protected, so the thief couldn’t access my contacts or photos, or start racking up expensive phone calls and other charges right away. It also really helped to have the serial number to give to the authorities.
IF YOU LOSE IT AT HOME…
Between couch cushions is where remotes, spare change and phones frequently fall, and somehow it’s still one of the last places we look. If you’re always losing your device somewhere in plain sight (and of course it’s on silent), you can start with a pretty simple solution. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a site/app that creates nifty commands for all of your gadgets. It has alost phone “recipe” that lets you send an email to yourself with the hashtag #lostphone in the subject line, then IFTTT will call your phone for you.
Another nifty way to find your phone is with a little find-what’s-lost device such as the TrackR ($25). It’s a little beacon you can put in a wallet or on your key ring, and if you can’t find your phone, push the TrackR, and your phone will ring, even if it’s on silent. If you’ve gone a certain distance away from your phone, the phone and TrackR will ring to alert you. It also works from your phone to your keys if you lose those often, too.
If you haven’t lost your phone and have it within arm’s reach, well, lucky you. But before you’re unlucky and leave it in an Uber somewhere, you can download any number of apps that will be ready to jump into action should your phone be lost or stolen. One of the best out there isLookout ($25). With this app, you can see a map of where your device is, and it can sound an alarm, even if it’s on silent. Lookout will send you an email of the device’s location at the first inkling it’s been stolen.
Here’s where Lookout gets super considerate. It will back up all your contacts and download your data so they’re not lost with your phone. If you’re using an Android device, the app can even turn your lock screen into a front-facing camera, so you can see what your phone sees.
If you have lost your phone and you use any of these clever tracking services to get it back and claim justice, don’t forget to use your stranger danger. Unless you’re some kind of smartphone vigilante who just happens to possess super-hero skills (kidding, don’t be an idiot), keep in mind that the person who has your phone may be a thief, so use your Craigslist safety rules: Bring a friend, don’t go into someone’s house, and go during the daytime.
Courtesy of USATODAY