My phone's been stolen
If your phone's been nicked, you have our full blessing to jump up and down yelling with rage. Feel better? Good, now here's what you have to do.
Protecting your phone
With any luck you're reading this with your phone tucked safely in your pocket or bag. If so, it's worth setting your mobile up to help prevent it getting pinched in the future. Or at least protecting yourself from paying the thief's massive phone bill if they do get their grubby mitts on it by doing the following:
- Write down the IMEI number: An IMEI number is a unique identifier for the phone. You can obtain this number by typing *#06# (star hash 06 hash) into your mobile phone and it will display a 15 digit number.
- Register your phone with: It's free and takes minutes to register all your valuables. If anything goes missing you can let police and insurers know right away. It also makes it much easier to trace you if your phone is recovered.
- Store your data: Many of the latest phones can transfer and sync contact data to your computer through USB cable, Bluetooth, or external memory cards. So it's worth updating every so often. For those who don't have this option, you can store data on a secure site or on your computer for a monthly or one-off fee - try Memotoo, Mobyko and Macroplant.
- Prime the phone lock: Most mobile phones feature password protection, so make full use of it. That way, if your phone is nicked, the thief will be faced with working through dozens of combinations, and may not be able to crack it at all.
- Download a GPS tracker app: If you have a smart phone, it's worth installing a tracker security app like Lookout. It keeps all your details safe, and can also use the GPS on your phone to track it if it's stolen.
If your phone does get stolen
OK, we understand it more than just a phone; it's the centre of your social universe - especially if you haven't backed up your data. So here's what you have to do if your phone gets into the wrong hands:
- Call your phone service provider: Report the theft as soon as you can. Your provider will have a set procedure to suspend the service and can take you through the details. You can usually find the right number on their website.
- Give them your phone's IMEI number: Bet you're glad you made a note of it now, huh? A couple of keystrokes at their end and the thief might as well have nicked a brick.
- Inform Immobolise: If you registered beforehand, let them know what's happened and your missing phone will be put on a database that's scrolled regularly by police and the second-hand trade. This makes it much more likely that your phone will be returned.
- Make a police report: Involving the police may not guarantee the return of your phone, but if you have a billing contract with your phone provider (as opposed to using phone cards) you may need to show them a copy of the report before they'll issue you with a new phone. Just don't go phoning 999 - drop into your local station instead.
- Now's the time to activate that GPS tracker: Don't try and hunt the thief down yourself - your safety is more important than retrieving your phone. But let police know you've got the GPS tracker software and they're likely to use it apprehend the culprit themselves.
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