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9 Things You Should Do After Losing Your Phone

Originally published on July 10, 2020

“I’ve lost my phone!” is an all-too-common lament. It’s not really surprising: smartphones are small devices and easily misplaced. They’re also expensive to replace and filled with sensitive data that could be used by the unscrupulous for fraud or identity theft. While it’s best to keep careful track of your phone, accidental loss or even phone theft can happen to anyone. Knowing what to do when you lose your phone increases your chance of recovering the device, or at least not comprising your data. So here’s a breakdown of what to do should you lose your cell phone and what to do if you can’t find the missing device.

1. Call or Text the Phone

As soon as you realize you’ve misplaced your phone, call or text the phone from another device. Sometimes that’s all you need to do: If the phone is nearby (and your phone volume isn’t muted), you might hear the ringtone.

There’s another reason to call or text as soon as possible. Someone may have found your phone and is trying to get it back to you. If your phone is locked, the only way they can contact you is if the phone rings before the battery dies. So don’t panic or run down the street yelling, “I lost my Verizon phone!” Place a call and hope someone picks up.

2. Lock the Phone Remotely

Ideally, you took steps to secure your mobile phone before your device went missing. If so, you may be able to lock your phone down remotely from another device. If your phone is missing, this is the first precaution you should take, to ensure no one can access your data while you search for the device.

How to Remotely Lock an Android Device

To lock down an Android phone, the phone must be turned on, be signed in to a Google account, and be connected to a mobile data or Wi-Fi Network. The phone must also have its location and Find My Device turned on.  To turn on Find My Device, take the following steps: 

  • Open Settings.
  • Scroll down to and select the Google option. 
  • Tap Security
  • Tap Find My Device
  • Move the slider into the On position. 

With Find My Device active, you can now lock your lost Verizon phone remotely: 

  • Go to android.com/find and sign in to your Google account. 
  • Click the missing phone on your list of devices. The phone will receive a notification to the lost phone.
  • Select Secure Device. Your phone will be locked using your PIN, fingerprint pattern, or password. If you don’t currently have a lock on the phone, you’ll be allowed to create one. You’ll also be prompted to add a short message or phone number to the lock screen to help someone locate you if they find the phone. 

How to Remotely Lock an iPhone

As with Android phones, you need to enable a few settings before your iPhone gets lost if you want to lock the device remotely. Here’s what to do:

  • Tap the Settings icon on the home page. 
  • Select iCloud
  • Enter your Apple ID and password.
  • Check Use iCloud.
  • Tap Find My Phone to the On position.
  • Select Privacy from Settings
  • Choose Location Services.
  • Toggle the switch for Location Services and Find My iPhone to the On positions. 

If you made those changes before losing your iPhone, you’ll be able to lock the device remotely: 

  • Log into iCloud.com on another device. 
  • Select Find My iPhone.
  • Select All Devices, and tap the device you want to lock. 
  • Click Lost Mode or Lock.
  • Follow the onscreen prompts to lock down your phone. You’ll have the option of locking your phone with its existing password or creating a passcode if you don’t already have one. If you are trying to lock a family member’s device, you’ll need to enter their Apple ID password. 
  • When prompted, enter a phone number where you can be reached, and a message indicating the phone is lost. This information will appear on the lock screen. 

If you have to create a passcode, be sure to remember it. If you forget, you may need to take the phone to an authorized Apple repair center to unlock it. 

3. Retrace Your Steps

Think about when you last saw your phone and retrace your steps. Either visit a location where your phone might be or call and ask people to look for it. Most businesses will happily look for a lost phone and contact the owner if they find it.

4. Use Your Phone’s GPS

If your phone’s GPS setting is active, you may be able to track the phone’s location via android.com/find or iCloud.com.

How to Track a Lost Android Phone

  • Go to android.com/find.
  • Sign in to your Google account. 
  • On the map, you’ll see the approximate location of your phone. Click the location, and you’ll get a Google Street View of the location, if available. 

If the device cannot be found, Google will show you the last known location of your phone. You can also choose to make the phone ring: even if the phone is silent or vibrates, it will still ring, helping people find it.

How to Locate a Missing iPhone

  • Open iCloud.com on a different device. 
  • Enter the Apple ID and password for your iCloud account. 
  • Select the Find My iPhone option.
  • Choose your missing iPhone from the My Devices list. 
  • Check the location of the iPhone on the map. 
  • Press the information icon on the map to see your options. You will be able to play a sound or send a message to the phone. Use sounds to locate nearby iPhones and send a custom message to the phone if it’s further away.

5. Remotely Wipe Your Device

If you don’t have your phone protected by a password or biometrics like Apple’s Face ID, anyone can access your data. The idea of a stranger going through your photos, texts, and private information is pretty creepy, not to mention someone could use your phone to access your bank account or other sensitive accounts. You can remotely wipe data from your Verizon lost phone (as long as you’ve backed up your phone recently you won’t lose much information):

How to Remotely Erase Data on an Android Phone

Choosing to erase your data from a missing Android phone will permanently delete all data on the phone. Data on SD cars may not be deleted. Once your data is erased, Find My Device will no longer be able to locate your phone, so use this option as a last resort:

  • Go to android.com/find.
  • Sign in to your Google account. 
  • Select your missing device. 
  • Select Erase Device. Once you verify this step, the process is irreversible.
  • If you find your phone after erasing it, you will need your Google account password to use it again.

How to Remote Erase a Lost iPhone

As with Android phones, choosing to remotely erase a missing iPhone’s data is a permanent step. Only do so if you believe it’s the only way to protect your personal information. 

  • Open iCloud.com on a different device. 
  • Enter the Apple ID and password for your iCloud account
  • Select All Devices.
  • Choose your missing iPhone from the device list. 
  • Select Erase iPhone

You can also preset an iPhone to erase all data after ten failed passcode attempts. To do so, open Settings. Select Touch ID & Passcode, and turn on Erase Data.

6. How to Report Your Verizon Phone Stolen

If you cannot find your phone, or if you suspect your phone has been stolen, contact Verizon to report your lost phone and ask them to suspend service. This prevents anyone from using your phone to make calls. If you’re dealing with a Verizon lost phone, contact Verizon directly at (800) 922-0204 or log in to My Verizon to report the phone lost or stolen and suspend service.

7. Change Your Passwords

Even if you have your missing phone locked down, play it safe and change the passwords on your banking, social media, and other private information, just in case someone was able to access your data. Better safe than sorry.

8. Make a Police Report

If you think your phone was stolen, file a police report. Yes, it’s a long shot, but stolen phones have been returned because their owners filed police reports in the past.

9. Submit an Insurance Claim

Hopefully, you set up an insurance plan for your phone before it went missing. Verizon lost phone insurance, such as Verizon Mobile Protect or Verizon Total Protect, is an affordable service that protects phones against loss, theft, and damage. If your phone isn’t insured, please consider enrolling. You have to pay a deductible if you make a claim, but that’s a small price to pay for a replacement phone.

If after a few weeks your phone does not reappear and you are ready to buy a new phone our team at Victra can share the latest and best promotional discounts from Verizon for existing Verizon customers as well as discounts for groups such as military or teachers and others. Stop by a Victra-Verizon store near you and our consultants will help explain all of the options and discounts available. 


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