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The last time I lost my phone, I freaked out. As 85% of Americans, I have a smartphone, and almost all my world is inside this device. Losing your phone is no fun when your most valuable data – from photos to passwords to payment information – is at stake.
If you’re here because your own phone was lost or stolen and you’re wondering what to do, you’ve come to the right place. First cybersecurity expert Adam Levin helped me put together a detailed step-by-step checklist of action items for dealing with a missing phone.
One thing that can help is a program like McAfee Multi-Access. The software incorporates mobile security features that protect your privacy and identity. It allows you to easily locate, lock and erase your data remotely as soon as you realize the device is gone. It also issues warnings about dangerous downloads and questionable websites, and it thwarts virus, malware, and ransomware attacks because thieves don’t need your real device to steal your information.
“For a lot of people, losing a phone is more than an embarrassing inconvenience,” Levin told Yahoo Life. “Your phone is now a central repository for most of your information.” Addressing a lost or stolen phone requires a two-pronged approach: try to find your device and take steps to clear your data in the meantime.
From a security perspective, Levin – who co-hosts the cybersecurity podcast What the Hack — recommends doing “everything you need to do to make sure that if your phone gets into the wrong hands, they can’t use it.” They might be able to resell the device itself, but they can’t extract any information because you’ve made that information disappear. »
1. Call and text your phone.
Before returning, make sure the phone is actually missing and not just misplaced. It could be 50 miles away in the hands of a thief who stole it from your purse – or it could just be buried at the bottom of your handbag. call your phone and a text. Best case scenario, someone will take or respond to your text on their own phone. Or you will hear the faint sound of your phone ringing or vibrating in the next room.
2. Activate your security software.
Mobile security software like McAfee Multi-Access is literally designed for situations like this. One subscription applies to five devices, and that includes both Android phones and iPhones. It removes all the individual steps involved in tracking your lost phone, remotely locking it, wiping its data, etc. On a computer or mobile device, you will log in to McAfee Multi-Access‘ central device management portal to start your detective. Everything is in the same place.
3. Track your lost phone.
If you don’t have mobile security software, try finding your phone’s location manually. If you can locate your phone, you can try to recover it.
For Android phones, use the “Find My Device” feature by going to android.com/find and logging into your Google account. For iPhones, use the “Find My iPhone” feature by signing in to iCloud.com/find. Either way, you’ll be able to see your phone’s approximate location on a virtual map, but only if the feature is already enabled on your phone. For Android phones, the “Find My” feature lets you ring your phone at full volume for five minutes, even if it’s on silent or vibrate. The “Find My” feature on iPhone works even if the device is turned off or dead.
4. Wipe your phone remotely.
Then you want to erase the phone data. For a lost Android phone, while logged in to your Google account at android.com/find, choose “Turn on lock and wipe”. You can then lock your phone remotely using your PIN, pattern or password (or create one on the spot). You can then permanently delete all data from your phone – but keep in mind that “Find My Device” will also be disabled if you do so.
For a lost iPhone, the process is similar. When you’re signed in to iCloud.com/find, mark your phone as “lost” and you’ll be prompted to lock it remotely by entering the password. Then erase it remotely; If you’ve installed the latest iOs, you may still be able to use the “Find My” feature after it’s been completely cleared. You can even type a personalized message on the iPhone screen, so the good Samaritans can send it back.
“I hope your information is backed up in the cloud as well,” warns Levin, emphasizing the importance of making sure your phone is always set up for automatic backups. This way erasing your data remotely is not a problem, as it is saved virtually and can be downloaded to your new device.
5. Deactivate your digital wallet and change your passwords, if necessary.
Locking your phone and wiping its data remotely will protect any credit or debit cards you have linked to your digital wallet. But what if for some reason you can’t erase the phone? Fortunately, Google Pay doesn’t save your individual card information, so anyone who steals your phone can’t access your payment methods, even if your phone is unlocked, but you can always contact mobile support to get it. Google Pay is removed from this device. On an iPhone, you can go directly to iCloud.com/find or use the Find My iPhone app to disable or permanently remove Apple Pay from that phone.
Not having the ability to wipe your phone remotely can also put your passwords at risk. Consider changing passwords on every account you can think of and invest in a password manager like LastPass Premium to automatically change all your passwords in the future.