Android phone lost or stolen? Here's how to get it back



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This can happen in a matter of seconds: you leave your phone on a counter in the store and you move away, or someone hits you on the street and takes out your phone from a pocket or from a bag.

Losing a phone, whether it 's a theft or a mistake of good faith, is a stressful experience. Not only is your access to the rest of the world cut off, but your phone contains some of your most personal information.

If your phone is missing, do not panic! Each Android phone includes tools to easily lock and find a lost phone. But first, you will need to take some steps to prepare yourself for success.

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How to find your lost Android phone


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Be prepared

Create a secure lock screen

Do yourself a favor and enable authentication by code and fingerprint. Do yourself another favor and do not use facial recognition on your Android device.

The technology used for facial recognition on most Android devices can be easily fooled with something as simple as a photo of your face. Facial authentication could become safer if Android Q actually adds official support for secure Face ID authentication on Android as suggested by the reports.

Following. create your authentication code and configure fingerprint authentication in the Settings application, in the Security section. I realize that scanning a fingerprint or entering a PIN code every time you want to use your phone can be embarrassing, but the idea that a person has access your photos, your banking applications, your e-mail and the rest of your personal information is absolutely scary.

An extra step to unlock your phone is worth it when you consider the potential impact of disclosing your personal information to a stranger.

Google finds my device

google-find-my-device

Make sure Google Find My Device is turned on.

Screenshots of Jason Cipriani / CNET

Whenever you sign in to an Android device with a Google Account, Find My Device is already enabled. Find your device is what you will use in case your phone disappears to track, lock remotely and delete it remotely.

You can check that the Find My Device option is enabled by opening the Settings app and going to Security and location > Find my device. Otherwise, if your device does not have the Security and Location option, go to Google > security > Find my device.

Find my device must be activated. Otherwise, slide the switch on the Sure position and exit the application Settings.

Samsung finds my mobile

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If you're signed in to your Samsung account on a Galaxy phone, you should be ready to go. However, it is a good idea to check.

Screenshots of Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you have a Samsung phone, in addition to Google Find My Device, you can and must set up Google Search My Mobile. Not only does this give you a backup service to find a lost phone, but it also gives you tools that Find My Device does not have.

With the Samsung service, you can for example force backups remotely or see if someone exchanged your SIM card. You must have a Samsung account to use Find My Mobile.

On your Samsung phone, open the settings app and go to Biometrics and security > Find my mobile. If you signed in to your Samsung account during initial device setup, Find My Mobile should already be activated. Otherwise, take a few seconds to sign in to your Samsung account and activate Find My Mobile.

Lock remotely, follow a lost phone

Use Find my device

Make a sound, lock your phone, or erase it with Find My Device.

Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

To use the integrated Android service, you have to remember one thing: android.com/find. This website is where you will go in the unfortunate case where you lose your phone. Make sure to sign in to the same Google Account as your Android phone.

Not near a computer? You can use another Android device and the Find My Device app that you will need to download separately from the Play Store. Immediately after logging in to the site or app, Google will attempt to locate your phone.

An alert will be sent to your phone to inform anyone in possession of your message that the tracking is in progress. Use the menu to the left of Find My Device to make a sound (useful if you've lost it at home!), Lock your device or erase it completely.

Secure Device Selection locks the phone, displays a message of your choice on the lock screen, and disconnects you from your Google Account. Do not worry, you can still locate the phone once it is locked. If you use Google Pay for mobile payments, locking your phone will prevent anyone from using it to make a purchase.

If you use the Clear Device feature, you will not be able to follow the phone once it has been erased. Reserve this feature as a last resort.

If the thief turns off your phone, you will not be able to locate it before turning it on again and have a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Google will send you an email once it has located your device.

Samsung users

Samsung's Find My Mobile offers many options for tracking and controlling a lost phone.

Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

Samsung Galaxy owners have the advantage of using the respective services of Google or Samsung to locate a lost device, but I recommend using Samsung's offer. As you will see below, the added features are invaluable.

To track a lost device with Samsung service, you need to visit findmymobile.samsung.com. There is no additional application, so you will need to use a mobile browser on another phone or computer.

Sign in with your Samsung account, then select your lost device to the left of the screen. A map will be displayed at the current location of your phone and an options menu will be displayed on the right of the screen.

Start by locking the phone to display a personalized message on the lock screen, suspend your Samsung Pay cards and prevent the phone from turning off.

Then create a backup of your phone. If you lose it for good, you'll need an up-to-date backup of your phone. If the phone is moving, use the location tracking feature.

Activating this feature will follow your phone every 15 minutes. Finally, enable the function of extending the battery life. It will disable almost the entire phone, apart from tracking the location.

Do not confront thieves

If your phone has been stolen and you can locate its location, do not try to recover it yourself. It could hurt you or hurt another person. Despite the importance of a phone, it's just not worth it.

Instead, contact the local law enforcement and let them know that you need help finding a lost or stolen phone that you may have located at a specific address.

Contact your operator, file an insurance claim

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Contact your operator to file an insurance claim as soon as you realize you are not picking up your phone.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If it becomes clear that you will never recover your phone, contact your carrier and report that your phone is lost or stolen. Doing this will put the phone on a blacklist of the carrier's database, thus preventing another person from using it.

When you call, your operator will also want 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 always follow your lost phone, you will lose a mobile connection – and unless the phone is registered on a Wi-Fi network, you will lose the ability to follow it. .

Finally, if you pay insurance on your phone, you will need to file a claim and pay the deductible to get your replacement phone. Start the insurance claim process with your carrier, who will then likely direct you to the third party insurance company that will replace your phone.

Good luck! We hope you will never have to go through the emotional roller coaster of losing a phone, locating it and trying to recover it.

Originally released April 21 at 5:00 am Pacific Time.

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