Have you ever lost your phone? Are you worried you might lose it someday? It’s a common fear, but you should learn how to track your android phone if stolen or lost. The time to set up a location app or GPS-type system is now, while you have access to your phone. Knowing how to track a lost phone can save you major headaches, can keep your data safe even if it falls into the wrong hands, and can save you the expense of having to buy a replacement device.
How to Track Your Lost Android Phone
There are multiple paid and free apps that will help you find a lost phone, remotely erase data, sound a remote alarm or noise alert, record any unauthorized use of the phone, and more. Here are the top ways that owners of android phones protect their devices from theft, loss, or permanent misplacement.
In most every case, you need to have an app “on” at the time your phone is stolen, lost, or misplaced for it to work. If an appwas on when you lost physical contact with your device, you can log on to any computer and track it while it is being used. If your lost phone is not turned on, you’ll have to wait until it is on in order to find it, disable it, or erase its data.
- Location apps: Location apps are a mixed lot. There are dozens of free ones and a few that you can pay a small one-time or recurring fee to use. All require you to sign up for service, either to their website or to a dedicated service platform. You’ll need to disclose a decent amount of personal information, so make sure you trust the service provider. Otherwise, you could be getting more trouble than you’re attempting to avoid. Most of the location apps will require you to download and install them first, and then enable them to work. If these apps aren’t on when you lose your phone, you’ll be out of luck. This is actually a sort of sneaky way for app providers to force you to leave their apps on. What do they get out of the deal?Read the fine print on most location apps and you’ll see that the provider is essentially tracking your movement and gets to keep that data for future use. If you are okay with this, and really want a free app for locating our smartphone, then sign on and you’ll be able to find your phone very easily if it’s lost or stolen. Some major internet companies offer “find-my-phone” capability without apps. However, your phone needs to be on, needs to be connected to that company’s account, have access to the net, and needs to have “locate phone” capability enabled.
- GPS-like apps: You can purchase or download apps that are Global Positioning System (GPS)-like in the way they work. Families connect with each other through several of these systems so parents can keep track of where younger children are, or at least where their phones are. The missing devices must be “on” for you to track them. Free versions of these products come with simple “find me” capability. Non-free products offer many features like remote buzzers so you can hear a lost phone calling out to you, or “data erase,” which allows you to erase some or all of your phone’s data from a remote location.
- IMEI numbers: A true “last resort” is to contact the police and the carrier with your International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, the phone’s unique identification number. The police, and you, can search online at several databases and see if anyone has used that phone recently. You might not be able to pinpoint the user’s exact location, but the police or the carrier can eventually find the device in most situations, and you can ask the carrier to disable the device if you want them to.Going to the police and contacting the carrier should be viewed as a last resort if none of the other methods work. Remember that almost all the paid and free apps only help you locate your lost, stolen, or missing phone if it is on and has access to the internet.
Once you know how to track your lost android phone, remember to be very careful when the time comes to locate it. There are some basic precautions to take if you lose a phone and then discover its whereabouts. Remember that if the device was stolen, you’ll want to avoid thieves who might be violent if confronted.
If you know the device was stolen, contact the police with the IMEI number and all relevant information. They’ll locate the device and return it to you. If an arrest is made, you’ll have the chance to file charges, but involving the police means you won’t face a dangerous situation all alone.
Finally, if you report your device missing to the police and to your carrier, do your best to erase any sensitive data and/or completely clear all data on the device remotely. This is what some people call the “nuclear option” because if you do recover the phone later, all your data will be gone and you’ll have to start from scratch.