We’ve all misplaced our phone at one time or another (some more than others), in most cases it was right where we left it; but in the most unfortunate circumstances it’s been lost or stolen. 

There are some necessary steps that are often not done when people begin using their new smartphone. The key to recovering your lost or stolen device is prevention.  Here are some tips on what to do before and after your phone gets lost or stolen:

Passwords

It is alarming how often I’ve seen people disable the password feature because they’ve found it to be an inconvenience. Not only does this protect your phone(and your personal information), it can delay a thief’s attempt to disable the cellular and GPS antennas. This extra time could potentially lead to the recovery of your device. Be sure to choose a password that is complex enough that it cannot be easily guessed.

There’s an app for that

All major platforms Android, iOS, Windows all support tracking and recovery software. Each have their own service that allows you to remotely track the location of your device and to remotely lock the screen, displaying a message to the thief or Good Samaritan.   These apps are an essential tool in helping you recover your lost or stolen phone. Get familiar with the app of your choice; you do not want to be learning how to use it in the heat of the moment.

Android:  Google has a built in feature that allows you to track Google Device Manageryour phone with the gmail account that is associated with your phone. Simply log into Google Device Manager and watch your smartphone's location show up in Google maps!

iOS: Find My iPhone requires to be installed ahead of time. Be sure to download this to all your iOS supported devices.

Windows Phone: Find My Phone

These services all have the ability to locate your phone and offer different levels of protection of your personal information, even the ability to remotely erase the entire device to ensure your personal information is safe.

If your phone has gone missing before you’ve had a chance to install or configure tracking software, you can always try calling or texting and see if you get a response.  

If I can’t have it, no one can

As of September 2013 a database is being maintained that contains all IMEI’s (your phones serial number) that have been reported lost or stolen preventing them from being reactivated severely limiting their ability and their value.  It is important you locate this number and keep it in a safe place.

 The IMEI number is unique to your phone and will be needed when reporting your phone missing. This number can be found on the back of your phone or usually under the battery. If you are still having trouble locating it, you can go to your phones dialing feature and enter:  *#06# and it will appear on the screen.

If you’ve exhausted every option, you can call your provider and report your phone as lost or stolen and it will then be added to the database. 

Remember: being prepared is key to the recovery of your smartphone, if all else fails you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that your personal information is safe and the device will never be used again.