Irretrievably losing your smartphone or it getting stolen is quite unnerving, especially since they have become the centerpiece of our digital identities. From using them to connect with our friends to using them for all sorts of online payments, smartphones are the hub of electronic engagement for many. However, unfortunately, getting a phone stolen or losing it is more common than you might think.

According to the available statistics, around 89000 stolen phones were reported stolen in Pakistan last year. Globally, approximately 70 million Smartphones are lost each year, with only 7% being actually recovered. Out of the total, 69% are lost, and 31% are reported as stolen.

Some of the steps you can take in case of a lost or stolen phone are:

(Make sure you call it first in case you might have left it somewhere in a hurry)

Try tracking it

Both iOS and Android devices come with simple yet comprehensive suites of tools to help users track down their phones. For Android phones, you can use the Android Device Manager, and for iPhones, go to Find my iPhone’s web page. If you have a Samsung phone, you can also use the Find my Mobile service, if it is turned on.

All these services allow you to access your phone’s security options remotely using a laptop or another handset.

(Note: These require some initial setup. Hence, if you are looking up this information for the first time, it may be too late.)

To track your Android device, follow these steps.

  1. Go to Android Device manager.
  2. Sign in to your Google account.
  3. The main page will show you the last known location of your device. If the internet is turned on, it should be the most recent one.

For an iPhone, the process is similar, although you will have to go to Apple’s Find My device service’s webpage.

Lock your Device

If you don’t have a lock screen password on. It is imperative you lock your phone remotely to make sure that, in case it is found by someone else, they cannot access the contents of the phone. Of course, both Google and Apple have services in place for this.

For an Android smartphone, follow these steps:

  • Go to Android Device Manager.
  • Sign in to your Google account.
  • Choose your lost phone.
  • Click the ‘Secure device’ button to lock it.

You can also display a message on the lock screen, in case someone happens to find your phone.

For an iPhone, follow these steps:

  • Go to Apple Find my Device.
  • Log in with your Apple ID.
  • Click the device you’re missing.
  • Turn on Lost Mode.

Like the Android Device Manager, Apple’s Lost Mode also allows you to display a message on the lock screen.

Recover the data

If you have lost hope of retrieving your lost phone, it’s better to try to recover your data rather than going into lost/stolen phone panic mode. However, this is not possible if you did not regularly back up your data to a safe location, such as Samsung Cloud, Google Account, or iCloud.

Usually, smartphones automatically upload photos directly to the cloud. This depends on two things, though:

  • If that was the phone’s default setting.
  • If you changed that setting.

On an Android phone, the uploaded photos probably uploaded to Google Photos. To download these photos:

  • Go to Google Drive
  • Log into your account.
  • Go to Google photos from the left pane.
  • Download the complete file.

iOS behaves in a similar way. Your photos have likely been uploaded to the iCloud.

Although if your phone is lost or stolen, the loss of photos may not be your biggest problem. Unfortunately, if you have not manually backed your phone to the cloud or your PC, there is no way to recover your data.

Wipe your phone’s data

Your last step before notifying the authorities about the lost phone should be erasing all the data from your device. Whether your phone is lost or stolen, the first thing in your mind should be the privacy of your data.

To remotely erase all your data from the lost/stolen phone, follow these steps (it will only work when your phone is connected to the internet).

For an Android Device:

  • Go to Android Device Manager.
  • Sign in to your Google account.
  • Click on the device you want to erase.
  • Click the ‘Erase device.’

For an iPhone:

  • Go to Apple Find my Device.
  • Log in with your Apple ID.
  • Click ‘Remote Wipe’ or ‘Erase Everything’.

Block the device

The best option to block your lost or stolen handset in Pakistan is through the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC). CPLC has a record of more than a million IMEI numbers, all of which can be accessed through the website. You can register a Stolen Mobile Complaint through this website and choose to track or block your lost or stolen smartphone.

For this, you have to know the IMEI number of your device. If you have access to the smartphone’s retail box, you are in luck. The IMEI number is written beneath a barcode on the phone’s box.

Once you have the IMEI number of the device, you can report your lost or stolen device by sending a fax to CPLC at 021-35683336, by emailing the IMEI number to  [email protected] or through an online form on CPLC’s official website.