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Don’t Panic: A Lost Phone Checklist

If there were a shortlist of things you absolutely don’t want to lose, your smartphone would probably be on it. Not only are phones some of our favorite tech toys, we also rely on them for school, work, and social obligations. For many of us, they hold sensitive information, including passwords, photos, and work emails. We use them for emergencies, and even rely on them to keep track of our children. All of these factors make losing your phone a stressful experience. Unfortunately, it could happen at any time.

Here are some tips for making the best of a bad situation.   

Tips for finding your phone

With how attached many of us get to our phones, it can be tempting to panic before you’ve even really looked for your lost phone. If you start to feel that way, try taking a deep breath and taking these steps before you assume your phone is gone.

  • Call your phone. The oldest trick is of course to call your phone on a borrowed device and listen carefully. I am embarrassed to admit how often I’ve done this only to find my phone stuck in my couch cushions.
  • Text yourself. There are a lot of decent people out there. One of them might find your phone. It’s worth borrowing a phone to text your device directions on how to get in contact with you.
  • Retrace your steps. Mothers around the world have been telling their children to try this tactic for years, because it works. Go everywhere that you’ve been with your device. Check each room. Look on every shelf. If you’ve been out, call some of the businesses you’ve visited or search them yourself. If you hurry, you can sometimes find your phone before a stranger picks it up.
  • Use a security app. If you have planned ahead, there are a few good tech options for finding your phone. For example, if you have the AT&T Secure Family App, your family may be able to locate your device using GPS. Maybe you’ll notice you left it at a friend’s house. Maybe you forgot it at the gym. Either way, the app removes a lot of guesswork from your search. Just don’t try to chase down a potential thief yourself. If you suspect your device has been stolen, talk to the proper authorities before tracking it down.
  • Try a phone tracking accessory. If you happen to be reading this before you’ve lost your phone, take advantage of this opportunity to get a tracking device before it’s too late. This will let you ring your phone from your keys or wallet. It can be great for people who frequently misplace their devices.

Tips for after you’ve lost your phone

Unfortunately, sometimes when a device is lost or stolen, there is no way to recover it. When this happens, you need to protect your sensitive data. This means taking a few steps.

  • Contact the authorities. Once again, if you suspect your phone has been stolen, it is essential that you go through the process of filing a police report and explaining your situation to the proper authorities.
  • Change important passwords. Even if your device is locked, it is better to be safe than sorry here. Change your bank account password, social media passwords, insurance logins, and any other passwords that might be saved on your device.
  • Remotely wipe your device. Even if your bank account is safe, you still don’t want a stranger going through your photos, texts, or other private information. If you have remote access to your device through an app, you’ll want to wipe it clean to protect your privacy.
  • Call your wireless carrier. For AT&T customers, this step is extremely easy. Sign into your myAT&T account to suspend your service. The AT&T system will recognize your phone as lost or stolen and block it from the network within 24 hours.

Hopefully, these tips will help you locate your phone, protect your information, or even avoid losing it altogether.


This article was written by Matt Johnsen, a TechBuzz contributor. The statements in this article are his own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.

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