On top of losing one of your most precious assets, you are surely crying over the lost of your personal data (including phone contacts, messages, pictures) and loads of memories with that mobile phone. I know that you may have probably opened this post with much hope but I’m so sorry to say that you basically can’t do anything to get back your lost mobile (unless slim but real chances if you have previously taken some precautions, as discussed later in this blog article).
Unfortunately, this is the sad truth. Police cannot do anything except from issuing a memo which your mobile operator will need to cancel your current subscription. And if you want to get a new SIM card with your old number, you will need to pay a fee.
Tracing back your phone using its IMEI
Stop believing what you see in films!
We are in real life and none of the mobile operators in Mauritius will trace the location of your mobile phone based on its unique identifier (IMEI) unless you hold enough power to order them to do so. Do not even think of bringing this to court because by the time your case is heard, your lost mobile might probably be worth for the bin. This technology sure exists in Mauritius but mobile operators hold no obligation to find your phone if it is still connected to their network. This means that this facility is out of reach of people like you and me.
Why? First of all, tracing back your phone number means :
- Investing their own time and money
- Strategically, it doesn’t bring any profit for them because if you find your phone, you won’t need to invest in a new mobile, hence, less sales for them.
Some safety precautions
By now, you have surely guessed that it’s no use crying over the split milk. The phone is gone. But however, you can prepare yourself for these situations, in terms of minimizing the risks associated as well as ensuring that the lost mobile can’t be of any use to anyone else.
Traditionally, we used to implement the following steps :
- Use a mobile security code to prevent people from switching on your mobile
- Use a PIN code to prevent people from using your SIM in case they switch it back on?
However, none of the steps above can bring your mobile back. The thief can just throw away your SIM and pay someone to unlock your mobile security code.
Fortunately with the new smartphones, you can do more than that. Let’s see how :
- Encrypting your mobile phone storage will ensure that your personal data will remain safe and inaccessible since a PIN is required each time you switch on the mobile phone. Unlike the mobile security code mentioned above, an encryption will make your data unreadable even if the mobile is switched on. This means that if the person switched off the mobile and try to switch it back on, none of your personal data, pictures etc will be accessible.
- Install applications so that they can send back their GPS locations back to you. Some applications can even switch on your internet data connection and reply back with the exact GPS coordinates when you send special commands through a SMS. Of course, the lost mobile needs still to be switched on.
- Install applications which can be configured to send a specific number a SMS alert in case someone is using a different SIM on your list mobile. Hence, if someone inserts his personal SIM card on your lost mobile, the application will automatically send you a message with of course, his new number.
- New gadgets in form of key rings allow you to locate your mobile phone through bluetooth if they are in a certain reachable range. Although they can be expensive, sometimes these can turn out to be useful if you lost your phone in a crowd or in your own house for example.
Which mobile application?
I won’t be recommending any specific mobile applications but there’s definitely a large choice available for the most popular platforms (Android and iOS). A very simple example is Google’s own “Android Device Manager” which allows you to locate your mobile phone right from any computer’s browser if your data connection is switched on.
You can even program the mobile phone to ring out loud or wipe everything the moment it connects itself to the internet. I’m not an Apple fan but I think that the company has in-built features in their operating system iOS which can help you to deactivate your phone remotely and render it useless.
A last tip which can turn out to be very useful : Buy a mobile chain.
I still remember those days when I had a chain attached to my wallet and another one to my mobile phone. One thing for sure, it considerably reduces the risk of losing your mobile phone but it is so unfortunate that most mobile smartphones have no dedicated space to which you can attach a chain. So many phones could have been saved if only they had a chain attached to them, don’t you agree?
None of these above proposed measures are far fetched and since it costs nothing, you should not delay any further to secure your smartphone. Same can be said for securing your personal data on your personal computer or laptop. Read my previous post on this topic.
If you have additional tips or any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contribute by leaving a comment below.
Update (10 March 2015) :
- The feature “Find my phone” on Windows Phones is of no use if you are in Mauritius since our island is not in the list of supported countries
- Since I wrote this post, I have been using Cerberus app on my Android devices. I highly recommend you to install this app and pay a lifetime subscription of arounrs 5 euros.
I wrote a new post about these 2 above items -> http://www.yashvinblogs.com/lost-windows-phone-mauritius/
I use Lookout antivirus. It also has an anti theft feature. If your battery is low, it sends you an email with the location of the phone. In case of lost, it notifies you where the phone is. It also has other features like remote erasing, locking etc.
I use lookout too 🙂
I installed both LookOut and Cerberus ( Full paid version)
I use cerberus. Highly recommended
I tried it and loved the feaatures so much than I purchased the app. The sms commands are great, enabling the owner to activate the data connection and even take pics. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂
On android, for anti-theft, use Cerberus.
Google Android Manager is a built-in alternative, but you must have GPS always ON to trace back your phone.
Yes, the great Lord Cerberus 🙂
“I’m not an Apple fan but I think that the company has in-built features in their operating system iOS which can help you to deactivate your phone remotely and render it useless.”
Yep, you’re right. You can track the device’s location, make it beep, send it messages, as well as remotely wiping it. You can also set the device to auto-erase its data after 10 failed passcode attempts.
There’s a similar “Find my Mac” feature for OS X devices.
Thank you 🙂
Encrypt your phone, and use Android device manager via a different gmail address.
I also made the following observation : I noticed that it all depends on what the owner wants to do. Is his priority to get back his device or protect his phone. In case he solely wants to protect his data on the phone, he can set up an encryption and require a device code each time the phone boots up. Also, a pin / unlock pattern / face recognition to unlock his phone’s screen. In this way, anyone who gets the mobile phone, won’t be able to access the data already on the phone.
However, if the owner wants to get back his device, I guess that he should encourage the thief to use the mobile (that is, keep it on). If you put a code to prevent him from switching on the device, none of the attempts to find the location will work. Through Google Android Device Manager (or other apps like LookOut, Cerberus), the owner can send the commands to switch on the internet or schedule the mobile to send a sms in case the sim changes.
What do you think?
Or buy a 500MB / month data package from your service provider, allow Android device manager to always receive your GPS location on your phone, the moment it got lost, whether the guy turned it off, you still will have a historic of where the phone went. The moment the thief will turn it on, the phone will re appear on the grid. Yes this is a major turn off to privacy advocates, but hey, you can always use a fake gmail account with it and not link it to your other accounts.
Infact, I even use that in my car, when I give out my car to friends in case they are in trouble, I know exactly where my car is also and the entire history of the travel.
“Infact, I even use that in my car, when I give out my car to friends in case they are in trouble, I know exactly where my car is also and the entire history of the travel.”
Ofcourse if someone ask me the car in case they’ve got a sick father, i do not want my car to be parked in a motel’s parking.
lol, ok, ok.
For more info, check out https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0
Though remember 😀 … don’t use an email that can attach you to your real life.
Yeah, I know about location but I did not know about this specific real-day usage lol
someone stole my phone yesterday.. the android device manager is off…. i cant locate it.. help pliz