The normal smartphone has so much of personal information on it, such as pictures, a list of contacts, a calendar, email, and a digital wallet, that losing that handy piece of glass and metal can be very upsetting and confusing. You might never have to deal with this, but if your kids have their own phones, you should be ready for it.
How to Prepare for a Lost, Stolen, or Broken Smartphone?
Here are some things you can do before and after you lose or break your phone.
Basic Safety Measures
A strong case that won’t break if you drop it and a screen cover are both good ways to start protecting your phone from physical damage. The New York Times owns Wirecutter, a review site with ideas for iPhone cases.
If you lose your phone, it could be a security risk, so make sure the screen is locked with a strong PIN and face or palm recognition.
The location services on your phone can also help you find it if you lose it. If you turned it off in your Android or iOS device’s settings, you need to turn it on again. Don’t forget that you can change how apps can use your location in the privacy settings.
Turn on Remote Tracking
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, your phone has a tool that lets you track it from the web or another device. It’s called “Find My Device” on stock Android, and you can turn it on in Settings by going to “Security & Location.” On iOS, it’s called “Find My iPhone,” and you can turn it on by going to “Settings” and tapping “Your Name,” then “Your iPhone.”
Then, you can track your Android phone from any device where you are signed into the same Google account, and you can track your iPhone from any device where you are signed into the same Apple account. You can also go to your Google Account or the iCloud page to find out where your phone was last seen.
Protect the Lock Screen
Think about all the apps you usually use on your phone, like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, your email accounts, and maybe one or two shopping apps. The only thing that keeps other people from getting into those accounts is the lock screen.
With this in mind, it’s important to protect your phone’s lock screen in some way, such as with a PIN, a pattern, your fingerprint, or your face. You can find these choices in the Android Settings under “Security & Location” or in the iOS Settings under “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode.”
Back-Up Your Data
Whether you wipe your phone or not, you should be ready for the chance that you won’t see it again. So, you’ll have to save a copy of your information somewhere else. Most of these things can be done with apps and the way your phone works: You can install Instagram on a new phone, sign in, and your account will be right where it was before.
Use your phone’s normal backup system to save other information, like system settings and app data. Tap System, Advanced, and Backup on your Android device’s Settings menu. Go to Settings, tap your name, then your device, and then iCloud Backup if you have iCloud turned on, which you should.
Other Preventive Measures
If you think it’s worth it, you can always get phone insurance. Most insurance companies will cover your phone if it gets lost, stolen, or broken by accident. The amount you pay each month varies on how much your phone cost. You can make it more likely that you’ll get your phone back by putting your email address or another phone number on the lock screen.
From the Android Settings menu, choose Security & Location, tap the cog icon next to Screen Lock, and then tap Lock screen message. Tap Medical ID in the iOS Health app to add one or two emergency friends that you can call from the lock screen.
If you use two-factor authentication to get into your most important accounts, you might need to show that you are who you say you are by using a code sent to your phone or an app on your phone.
Without your phone, that will be harder, so set up other ways to get online before you lose your phone. For example, if your main two-factor way is lost or stolen, you can set up a second phone number or get a list of backup codes to use with your Google account.
Buying insurance or an extended guarantee for your phone costs money upfront, but it can give you benefits like help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, low-cost repairs, and same-day replacements for broken phones.
If you aren’t sure if you need insurance, think about how long you plan to keep the phone, how you use it, and if you can pay for fixes yourself. In some cases, the cost of the insurance can be more than the cost of the fix, so be sure to read the warranty or policy carefully before getting it.
Usually, when you buy a new phone, you are pushed to sign up. Some of the most popular plans from manufacturers are AppleCare, Google Preferred Care, and Samsung Care+. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are some of the providers of service.
Third-party insurance companies like Assurant, Asurion, and Akko sell plans for smartphones, as do general insurance companies like USAA and Progressive.
If you lose or have your phone stolen, you should call your company first, even if you have to use someone else’s phone. The network operator can check to make sure that no one is using your text messages or call credits to run up your bill or try to trick you.
They can put a lock on your SIM card and give you a new one. If someone stole your phone, you should let the cops know. Even if the police don’t know your phone is missing, the chances of getting it back are low. If it is found, the cops can give it back to you.
Those of you with phone insurance will probably need a crime number to file a claim, which is another reason to report the theft. And if you bought phone insurance, you should call the insurance company as soon as you can.