It only takes a moment: you leave your phone on a shop counter in the store and walk away, or someone bumps into you in the street and lifts your phone straight out of your pocket without you noticing.
Losing a phone, whether through theft or a sincere mistake, is a stressful experience. This not only prevents your access to the rest of the world, but your phone is also the most personal device you own.
In case your phone gets lost, do not panic! Every Android phone has tools built in to lock and track a lost phone. For this to happen you need to take some steps to prepare for success.
Create a secure lock screen
Do yourself a favor and enable passcode and fingerprint authentication. Do yourself another favor and do not use facial recognition on your Android device.
The technology used for face detection on most Android devices. Facial authentication could become safer if adds official support for secure face ID-like authentication to Android .
Next. Create your passcode and set up fingerprint authentication in the Settings app under Security. I realize that scanning a fingerprint or entering a PIN code every time you want to use your phone can be uncomfortable, but the notion that someone can access your photos, bank apps, emails, and the rest Having your personal information is downright scary.
One extra step in unlocking your phone is worth your while considering the potential impact of disclosing your personal information to a stranger.
Search Google's device
When you sign in to an Android device with a Google Account, "Search my device" is already turned on. Find My Device is what you should use in case your phone is ever missed to track, remotely lock, and delete remotely.
You can verify that My device search is enabled by opening the App settings and switching to Security and location > Searching my device . If your device does not have an option for security and location, go to Google > Security > Search my device .
"Search my device" should be enabled. If not, slide the switch to On and exit the Settings app.
Samsung finds my phone
If you have a Samsung phone, you can and should set up Samsung's "Find My Phone" service in addition to Google's Search My Phone service. Not only does it provide you with a backup service to detect a lost phone, it also offers tools that Find My Device does not offer.
The Samsung service can be used, for example, to enforce remote backups or to see if someone has replaced your SIM card. You must have a Samsung account to use Find My Mobile.
On your Samsung phone, open the app Settings and call Biometrics and Security > Find my mobile . If you signed in to your Samsung account when you first set up the device, Find My Mobile should already be enabled. If not, take a few seconds to sign in to your Samsung account and activate Find My Mobile.
Remote Locking and Tracking a Lost Phone
Using "Search My Device"
To take advantage of Android's built-in service, consider the following: android.com/find. On this website you will go in the unfortunate event that you lose your phone. Make sure you sign in to the same Google Account associated with your Android phone.
Not near a computer? You can use another Android device and the Find My Device app, which you need to download separately from the Play Store. Immediately after logging in to the website or app, Google will try to find your phone.
A warning is sent to your phone to tell who it is that it is being tracked. Use the menu on the left side of the "Search my device" site to play a sound (useful if you have misplaced it in your home!), Lock your device or completely erase the device.
Selecting "Secure device" will lock the phone, display a message of your choice on the lock screen, and allow you to sign out of your Google Account. Do not worry, you can still find the phone after it's locked. If you use Google Pay for mobile payments, locking your phone prevents someone from making a purchase with your phone.
If you use the Delete Device feature, you will not be able to track the phone after it has been deleted. Reserve this feature as a last resort.
If the thief turns off your phone, you can not track it until it reconnects if it has a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Google will send you an email as soon as your device is found.
Once you find your phone, you will need to enter your PIN or passcode to gain access. The should also get rid of the lock screen message. You may also need to sign in to your Google Account to verify that you are really accessing the phone. You do not have to disable anything in the Find My Apps app.
Samsung Galaxy owners have the advantage of using the respective services of Google or Samsung to find a lost device. However, I recommend using Samsung's offer. As you will see below, the extra features are invaluable.
To track down a lost device with the Samsung service, you must visit findmymobile.samsung.com. There is no companion app, so you must use a mobile browser on another phone or computer.
Log in with your Samsung account and select your lost device on the left side of the screen. A map will show you where your phone is, and a menu of options will be displayed on the right side of the screen.
First, lock the phone. A personalized message will be displayed on the lock screen, your Samsung Pay cards will be locked and your phone will not turn off.
Next, make a backup copy of your phone. If you finally lose it, you want to have a recent backup of your phone. If the phone shifts locations, use the Track Location feature.
If you enable this feature, your phone will be tracked every 15 minutes. Finally, activate the function to extend the battery life. This disables almost everything on the phone, which is outside of the location tracking.
Similar to the Google Search My Device service, the Samsung service requires you to enter only your PIN code after finding your phone. You do not have to go back to the website and disable the tracking features.
No confrontation with thieves
If your phone has been stolen and you can locate it, do not try to restore it yourself. This could cause you or someone else to get hurt, and despite the importance of a phone, it's just not worth it.
Instead, contact local law enforcement agencies and tell them you need help recovering a lost or stolen phone that you could trace back to a specific address.
Contact your wireless service provider and file an insurance claim.
If it becomes clear that you will never get your phone back, contact your mobile service provider and report your phone as lost or stolen. In this way, the phone from the network operator's database is blacklisted to prevent another person from using it.
When you call, your service provider wants to suspend your service. This is a good idea if you want to prevent someone from using your phone. However, keep in mind that if you are still tracking your lost phone, you will lose a mobile connection to it. If the phone is not somehow registered on a Wi-Fi network, you lose the ability to track it.
If you pay for the insurance on your phone, you must file a claim and pay the deductible to get your replacement phone. Start the claim through your mobile service provider, which will likely redirect you to the third party insurance company that replaces your phone.
Good luck! We hope you never have to go through the roller coaster of losing a phone, tracking it, and trying to get it back.
Originally published on April 21st.