What To Do Before You Lose Your Smartphone or Tablet

A step-by-step search and rescue for your missing mobile

It’s been a wonderful ride. You and your mobile device are like two perfectly synchronized swimmers navigating the sea of life. It was a dynamic, fulfilling partnership – and it was beautiful.

Right up until said smartphone or tablet was left behind in that last taxi, train, coffee shop or hotel bar. Now you’ve got maybe an hour if you’re lucky – a few minutes if not – before the whole world comes crashing in.

These days when you lose your smartphone or tablet, you really do lose a piece of yourself. And if that piece falls into the wrong hands, your identity, finances, family, and career could be devastated.

The good news: There’s plenty that can be done to protect your mobile devices both before and during such a nightmarish event.

Keep your love locked down

Let’s assume you’re not reading this in a fit of sheer panic after just losing your device (if that is the case, take a deep breath and keep reading). Here are the security measures you should take before inevitably winding up in the worst-case scenario:

  • Password protect your partner. Yeah, yeah, so obvious! Everybody has his or her device password protec…. oh wait, you never bothered to do that, did you? According to Javelin Strategy and Research, only “33 percent of smartphone users password protect their devices.” So, what are you waiting for? Do it right now.

  • Leave a paper trail. Shockingly, not everyone in the world is a scheming, malevolent thief, and some people may even want to return your missing device. Tuck a note or business card into your smartphone or tablet case with an email address where you can be reached. Yes, we are trying to keep your personal info out of a bad guy’s hands, but you can always use an old email address or set up a dummy account just for this purpose.

  • Arm your mobile device with an app that keeps your data safe. Luckily, there are a number of apps and tools that can help track down your device and protect it if it lands in the wrong hands.

For Android users:

Apps like Seekdroid ($2.99), Cerberus ($5/year), and Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile (free; premium service also available) will allow you to track your device’s location, lock its functions and remotely wipe all data to protect your sensitive personal information.

In addition, Android now possesses a similar function to Find My iPhone. Simply Google "find my phone" while signed into the Google account registered on your phone, and you can not only see the location of your phone, but also play a sound from it and remotely lock and erase it if need be.

For iOS users:

Find My iPhone (free) will give you the same ability to remotely track, lock and wipe your iPhone or iPad. All you need is another iOS device to access the app’s features and find your device.

Let’s stay together

Now that you know what to do if you lose your smartphone or tablet, it would be a good idea to go that extra mile and make sure your digital life-partner has the best mobile security protection at all times, not just when it’s out of your hands. Malware and hackers can be a mobile security threat even when your device is tucked away safely in your pocket or lounging next to you in bed, but if you take good care of your partner, it will do the same for you.


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