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Stolen Cell Phones

Updated on March 30, 2018
RuthCoffee profile image

I've been writing for 12+ years and like to share useful information from projects I've done, experiences I've had, and things I've learned.

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Stolen Cell Phones: What to do?

Cell phones disappear daily. They're sometimes merely misplaced but too often they are stolen. For a thief, cell phones are a pretty popular target due to the fact they are small and easier to take and to sell than most items. They can easily bring in $50 or more per phone. Then of course, most thieves merely take the phone and use it until the owner has the phone disabled.

Find out how to prevent cell phone theft, what real risks are, and what to do about stolen cell phones here.

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Preventing Cell Phone Theft

There are a few things cell phone owners can do to reduce the possibility of losing the cell phone, having it stolen, or reducing the damage that can occur in either instance:

  • Use a clip or leash to keep your cell phone attached to your body.
  • Don't leave an unattended phone laying in clear view or in a purse that isn't in a locked compartment.
  • Another possibility to reduce the likelihood of phone theft is to use a wearable device; a smartwatch.

Of course, the thing is, it's not just a phone, it's the information inside that makes it even more valuable to you and to some thieves. Identity theft and other critical information can be devastating.

  • It might be a more drastic step, but consider carefully what information you store on your cell phone. If it would create too big of a disaster if it fell into someone else's hands, don't store it. You can store data remotely with a secure online server. Then there is no data on your phone for someone else to access.
  • For the information that is on your phone, encrypt it to prevent others from using it. Most smartphones have free software downloads for this.
  • Of course one of the most basic first steps is to set up PINs for access to your phone (or pattern lock), to connect to the network, and a SIM card lock with PIN number so anyone taking your phone wouldn't be able to get access to a network.
  • Again, security software is the best protection from information being used or sold by a thief if the owner chooses to store such sensitive information their phone. Most phones have software to help you locate a lost or stolen phone, to wipe information, to reset the passcode or lock the device remotely. Windows, Apple, and Android devices are among those that have these capabilities.
  • Users also want to be sure to update their phone when updates become available. Security vulnerabilities are sometimes remedied via these updates.
  • There are a number of mobile security apps available for purchase from companies like Norton, McAfee, TrendMicro, and others.

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Stolen Cell Phone Charges

Here are two important points for anyone who has a stolen cell phone:

  • Cell phone owners are responsible for all charges that are incurred prior to the point that the cell phone is reported lost or stolen. Keeping in mind that the "average" thief steals a cell phone to use it rather than sell it, these charges can be significant.
  • Cell phone contracts have no liability limitations. Thus, owner's responsibility for paying any charges is not limited, capped, or anything else.

Note: Although the owner is responsible for all calls, if the owner set up and paid for their cell phone service via their credit card, they should contact the credit card company to see if the fraudulent calls could be covered through their service.

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Report Stolen Cell Phones

What should you do if you have a stolen cell phone?

  • Check the cell phone contract for the specifics but generally, if a phone is stolen or missing it should be immediately reported it to the police. They will want to know the name of the cellular provider, the make and model of the cell phone, and it's Electronic Serial Number so be sure to keep this information on hand.
  • With the case number assigned by the police, call the cellular provider to let them know what has happened. The company can render the phone unusable if given the IMEI number. (Users can get the IMEI number by dialing *#06# on their cell phone and keeping it on hand) Following notification, the owner can no longer be held accountable for any additional calls.

A rapid response is important and the best defense.

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Locate and Disable Stolen Cell Phones

Locating and/or disabling stolen cell phones is sometimes possible. As mentioned above many phones have software available to remote wipe, lock, locate, etc. (For instance, Apple has "Find My iPhone" and Android has "Find My Device". ) It's best to have location GPS enabled for these to work.

However, some third party software is also available that can help in protecting a cell phone's information and to locate or disable the phone.

One possibility is GadgetTrak which can be used with many mobile devices including smart phones and laptops. It offers encrypted backup, remote data wipe, location tracking, detection of changes to the SIM card or software, and an alarm on your device.

Companies like Norton, McAfee, and others provide privacy protection, web filtering, identity theft protection, and so forth.

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Cell Phone Insurance

With millions of cell phones stolen each year, many consumers consider the purchase of cell phone insurance.

Manufacturer's (Apple, Samsung, etc.) often offer insurance when the phone is sold. In addition, cellular providers (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) offer coverage too. Then there are also third party insurers.

Before deciding to go this route however, there are a few things to consider:

  • What is the monthly expense of the insurance over time?
  • What is the deductible? (the insurance likely won't cover the entire cost of a new phone)
  • Will the replacement phone be the same as the current phone?
  • Will the phone be replaced immediately?
  • If your phone is stolen and you don't have insurance, what will your cellular provider do to help you out? (compare how much benefit there is to having the insurance and not having it)

And Another Thing: Fraudulent Accounts

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As we mentioned above, stolen cell phones are a bigger problem than just the missing device. It's possible of course for others to open a cellular account using your personal information (which they can obtain in a number of ways including via your unprotected cell phone).

For more information about this go to FCC.gov and learn how to protect yourself.

© 2008 Ruth Coffee

Stolen Cell Phones: Was this page helpful? Let us know!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      You might want to check the site, http//www.MyCellWasStolen.com, it has a global registry of all stolen cell IMEI numbers. New buyers can verify that they are not buying a stolen cell from this site. You can also register an IMEI against your name after providing a proof of purchase and they notify you when you lose your cell phone. Pretty cool.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      fuck you, squidoo, for that spam techzoogle "quality headphones" link. fuck you in your sorry asses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      The best is to post your stolen IMEI on mycellwasstolen.com so that nobody in the world can use the phone. This also helps in breaking the stolen cell theft cycle.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      I shudder when I see Identity theft and phone in the same sentence. Thanks for sharing. I may need to update my lense about identity theft. Great lens

    • profile image

      construction-lawyer 

      7 years ago

      My phone got stolen and nothing could be done probably because they change the imei easily.

    • profile image

      Sycro 

      7 years ago

      hey, my phone got stolen and i used Phone number scan to see who it was

    • profile image

      gogy 

      7 years ago

      You can also check the database of stolen, lost and found mobile phones at

      http://www.stolen-phone.com

      Hopefuly you will not need this page but in case you need it could be useful.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 

      7 years ago

      My I Phone has a kind of GPS, but I still lose it when I turn it off

    • profile image

      PinkyTinky 

      8 years ago

      thanks for the very important info,

    • profile image

      linnatilpa 

      8 years ago

      not at all, my cell is stolen at my work place about 2hrs from now and i want to lacate its location, i am ready to give all my personal detail related to my phone and service provider. and i want to know its location. so if you can help me in this reply me currently my first move is to disconnect my mobile gprs connection which is vodafone

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 

      8 years ago

      Important info. Well done. Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      I know i'm too young but my phone got stolen at school! And i'm in fourth grade!

    • RuthCoffee profile imageAUTHOR

      Ruth Coffee 

      9 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      [in reply to Nicholas Peper] That's certainly not good! Have you contacted them and heard nothing back? I have heard only positive feedback until this, I would be interested if you learn more or if others have a similar experience.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      I sent my old iPhone to CellForCash on 7/1/2009, they received it on 7/6/2009 and verified the iPhone on 7/10/2009. As of today 10/22/2009, I still haven't received payment or any responses to my emails or phone calls. Just thought I'd let you know. I used CellForCash because of an online recommendation by Chris Perillo, thinking that they would be a legit operation. If they were in the past, my present experience is that they are not legit anymore. eBay would have been a better choice in retrospect.

    • RuthCoffee profile imageAUTHOR

      Ruth Coffee 

      9 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      [in reply to Ellie] There are services like themobiletracker.com (clicking on the sunsatsatellite link above, under locate or disable your phone will take you there) which MAY be able to help you track your phone. But, the other thing you need to do is report it. At a minimum tell your cellular provider.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      this is helpful.Today someone stole my phone at forth period, I had forgotten my sweater at my mother's house and didn't have enough time to change out of my sweats from PE.I had left my phone in my back-pack's front pocket.Since I sat in the back of the classroom with only one person next to me.I was told by the teacher to get the back door and leave it open.It wouldn't stay open so I stood there the whole class time, when I came in at the end of class; to put my pencils away..I put my pencils in to find my cell phone gone.My first thought was where did I put it?Then I remembered I had left it there, making the person next to me my only suspect.I would've asked him if he had stolen my phone but it seemed rude to do so.Plus, would he have told the truth?I don't know where it is and I'm scared.....It's a metroPCS SamSung Messager 2, had it only little before school started...Is there someway to track it?...Please help...

    • profile image

      lparker3470 

      9 years ago

      i think you have everything covered in this article!!!

      there is a site that helps recover your lost phone htttp://www.itag.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Today my daughter brought home a cell phone that someone handed her and said keep it going, they were passing it around like a toy. They wanted to see where it would stop. Well, my daughter brought this phone home to me and told me what had happened. I found the owner of the phone and come to find out, her aunt is a city cop right here in the town that I live in, they actually live on the same street as I do. Well, I took the phone to her aunt, informed her of what had happened, and no charges were brought agianst my daughter. I do wish we could live in an honest world. But the lady I turned the phone over to, is definitely going to the school to investigate. This just goes to show you, that its not just adults that are doing these things. Parents need to teach their children as well to be honest!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      9 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Very useful information and a great lens. 5*****

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 

      9 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      cell phone stolen

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Once again I see it is all down to the consumer to safeguard themselves.

      When will we make it the cell phone company's responsibility to ensure that cellphones are not worth stealing. They need to be permanently disabled, to have mechanisms on demand to trace (on court order). On top of our unreasonably high cell phone costs here we are now expected to pay more to keep track of our phones.

      I would like to see a court case where there has been violence in a cell phone mugging, and I would like to see the victim sue the cell phone company for the simple fact that it must be their business policy to do nothing to ensure that cell phone crime becomes unviable. Cell phone theft actually benefits the companies because we are compelled to buy more phones before obsolescence due to theft.

      Once again it is the corporates enriching themselves without actually doing anything to ensure their customers safety.

      Anyone want to help move this along.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      [in reply to Mike NY] here is the URL for the article:

      http://www.yodaphone.com/savecellular.aspx

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      5 stars! This is a really professional lens. awesome job! I wrote an article on Cellular Family Plans with some advised that might save people money. When you have a chance check it out. Thanks and keep up a good job!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 

      9 years ago

      Yep -- we've been there with the stolen AND lost cell phones -- between hubby and the guys at work, more cell phones than I think I've had in my lifetime! One of the last phones hubby lost was at a Jaguars game -- dropped in the seats where we sit as season ticket holders -- that meant that someone who probably sits in the area found and kept the phone -- calling the ISLANDS until hubby disabled it. A shame that more people don't turn in lost cell phones!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      I was just dealing with a lost cell phone today. Thank you for all the useful information.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 

      9 years ago

      Excellent comprehensive resource!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      9 years ago

      You just can't be too careful. Thanks for this lens.

    • debnet profile image

      Debbie 

      9 years ago from England

      Great advice on here! Thank you! Very well put together lens 5*

    • profile image

      Mayflowerblood 

      9 years ago

      yes it's very helpful =]

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      9 years ago from Idaho

      Great information, it happens so often!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      I've lost my iPhone TWICE now, and got it back both times thanks to Rewarding Return (http://www.rewardingreturn.com)

      They have recovery labels that you put on your cell phone. So if it's ever lost or stolen, the person has an incentive to return it to you. Check it out - you won't regret it

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 

      10 years ago

      I am lucky and it never happened to me that my cell phone was stolen. But it is always good to have such tips handy. :)

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 

      10 years ago from Massachusetts

      This shows me I've been a little careless with my phone. Great information, now I'll know what to do in case this does occur! Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      this rely helped me because someone stol my cell phones so i got to be careful now

    • DavidYarian LM profile image

      DavidYarian LM 

      10 years ago

      Great information here. Thanks!

    • profile image

      tdove 

      10 years ago

      Great advice. I lost my cell phone once and wish I knew this stuff then. Thanks for visiting me at How to Win Lotteries with Artificial Intelligence!

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 

      10 years ago from Detroit

      Having your phone swiped IS hell. Great pointers about what to do! Important!

    • profile image

      catch-cheating 

      10 years ago

      hi Mulberry, excellent guide, how to take care cellphone

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      10 years ago from USA

      Another wonderful, informative lens! Nice work!

    • profile image

      rockycha 

      10 years ago

      Once again, outstanding info! Your lenspages are always the best! high fives!

    • NAIZA LM profile image

      NAIZA LM 

      10 years ago

      Good advices how to be aware about stolen cell phones! Surely, a lot of people will consider to take extra careful. Definitely, a fabulous five!

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