All it takes is a moment of carelessness, an open handbag or an opportunist pickpocket and your smartphone can disappear from right under your nose. Here are some of the things you should do if your smartphone gets stolen.
It's highly likely that your smartphone was stolen while it was switched on and ready to use. Quickly call your mobile operator to get your line blocked before the thief has the time to use it. That will prevent any fraudulent use of your phone line and your contract's services.
If you know your phone's IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity number), you can also get the handset blocked. The IMEI number is a unique identification number for each handset. It's wise to make a note of this number when you buy a new phone. You can get it by typing "*#06#" on your phone keypad. A 15-figure code is then displayed -- write it down and keep it somewhere safe. The IMEI number can also be found on the phone itself, under the battery, as well as on your bill or on a sticker on the phone's original packaging, near the bar code.
You should report the theft to the police, giving them the handset's IMEI number. Documents proving that the theft has been reported to police are usually required for operators to block lines or handsets, or to make an insurance claim if the handset is covered. The IMEI number could also help identify your handset if it is recovered.
Smartphones are used for much more than making calls, as users often read emails, access social networks, and use shopping or banking apps on their devices. Tech-savvy thieves could, therefore, gain access to online accounts. Passwords should be changed quickly as a security precaution.
It's important to set up a locking system for your handset with a password, a combination of gestures or a fingerprint. Make sure you change the default password (0000 or 1234) to a more complex combination that's difficult to guess.
Set up device geolocation, if available. Certain mobile operators, phone makers and app developers let users track the whereabouts of mobiles on special websites, as well as block devices remotely and, in some cases, remotely recover data from the handset before deleting it.
To avoid losing data, sync your device with an online storage service to back up things like contacts, photos and more. Many such services are available, some of which offer free storage for a reasonable amount of data. With some devices, everything can be recovered identically when you power up your new smartphone.
Finally, save your phone's IMEI number somewhere where it can be accessed remotely, such as in the cloud or in an email.