Stolen Cell Phones
Stolen Cell Phones: What to do?
Cell phones disappear daily. They're sometimes merely misplaced but they are often 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.
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.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 may not prevent someone from taking your phone, but you can prevent them from accessing important information. Encrypt the data on your cell phone to prevent others from using it.You can slow down a thief at least by using passwords to restrict easy access to the keypad. Read this Microsoft page on the importance of selecting a strong password.
Another Cell Phone Option to Reduce the Likelihood of Theft
Leashes and clips can help you keep track of your cell phone, but another potential option is a cell phone wristwatch. If you wear a watch constantly, it's hard to steal and most thieves would not target your watch for the purpose of using it as a cell phone.
It's Not Just a Cell Phone
For those who have a GSM phone or smartphone, a stolen cell phone is more than just the absence of the device itself. It's the loss of important information and the potential for identity theft.
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. Some phones now offer features that can help you protect your information although many don't. The iPhone for instance, offers iCloud it allows users to encrypt information and to locate lost or stolen devices. In addition, you can also do a "Remote Wipe" which removes data from the phone altogether. Users can restore it later if the phone is returned. More details about the service is available here.
There are a number of security apps that add a lot of protection. You can find recommendations for the best of them here.
Even If Your Cell Phone Isn't Stolen, Perhaps Your Information Could Be - Find Out How to Protect Yourself
Need a Phone with It's Own Security Features? - Here's one good option
Data Encryption Software for Cell Phones
Mobile Security Software
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.
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.
Locate and Disable Stolen Cell Phones
Locating and/or disabling stolen cell phones is sometimes possible; if you've taken precautions. While some phones offer services that allow a remote wipe of information and so forth, many do not. However, some thir party software is available that can help in protecting a cell phone's information and to locate or disable the phone if taken. Phone Guardian reportedly prevents data from being retrieved and provides the information necessary to find the thief and retrieve the phone. However, it is designed for Symbian phones.
Another option is AccuTracking which describes itself as a low cost GPS Tracking Service. A consumer would need to download the software onto their phone prior to it's loss obviously. SunSat Satellite and World Tracker offer other options.
iPhone users can now pay for the MobileMe service. For $100/year, the service allows them to go to the me.com website when their iPhone is missing to find it. The site allows them to see it's approximate location on a map, have it beep if it's nearby, send a text message to it, lock it, or erase information. There are a variety of apps, primarily for Android phones that are possibilities too. (see the link for recommendations referenced above)
Another possibility is GadgetTrak which can be used with many mobile devices including smart phones and laptops.
More Mobile Security Options Online
- Trust Digital
Mobile Security for smartphones and PDAs.
- Firewall Guide
A comprehensive list of articles and products.
- Trend Micro
A top name in security.
More about the MobileMe service. In mid-2012, the Mobile Me service will be migrated to iCloud where Find My Phone and many other services will be available.
- Gadget Trak
ActiveTrak makes a product called GadgetTrak which will locate a stolen cell phone, back up data, and remotely disable it.
Will locate and lock your lost or stolen cell phone remotely and can wipe data as well.
Learn About Identity Theft
Cell Phone Insurance
With millions of cell phones stolen each year, many consumers consider the purchase of cell phone insurance. Before deciding to go this route however, there are a few things to consider:Compare the cost of the coverage to the cost of replacing the stolen cell phone.Add up the monthly payments for the insurance over the expected lifetime of the phone, then add the deductible to that total. If the total is equivalent to what it would cost to replace the phone, insurance is not needed. In other words, the cost of a replacement phone is not significantly more than the cost of paying for the insurance in many instances.Potential buyers also need to look at what will occur if their phone is stolen or lost under the insurance agreement.Will the replacment phone be equivalent to the current phone, will it be replaced immediately? If not, will it be a satisfactory solution?Find out if the cellular provider will help replace a phone in case of theft. If they will, the insurance will be unnecessary.
And Another Thing: Fraudulent Accounts
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.
The Good News Regarding Cell Phone Theft
The good news is that, as one would expect, there are efforts to improve the anti-theft features of cell phones. From phones that lock up when the user is not recognized to phones that allow owners to go online to find their phones exact location, there are several options on the drawing board.
Find out about some of these promising ideas at Techzoogle.com.
In addition, in early 2012, news reports indicated that the major cellular providers in the US in conjunction with the FCC are hard at work developing a stolen cell phone database and technologies to support allowing phones to be deactivated permanently when stolen. You can read more about these efforts here.
Introduction Photo Credit: papalars.
Preventing Cell Phone Theft: Sarah Jones.
It's Not Just a Cell Phone: decadentyou
Stolen Cell Phone Charges: Tracy O.
Report Stolen Cell Phones: Rob Gale.
Locate and Disable Stolen Cell Phones: okko pyykko.
Cell Phone Insurance: geee.darryl.
Fraudulent Accounts: Kai Hendry.
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