So, Your Phone Got Stolen. Here’s What to Do.

The Coachella Music and Arts Festival is known for 3 days of desert heat, trendy tunes, and breathtaking art installations, but it may get a new reputation by many as the weekend of stolen cell phones. Hundreds of mobile devices were stolen over the first weekend of the concert earlier this month, after a ring of thieves flew in from New York to attend the festival and take advantage of distracted concert-goers.

While the majority of the stolen phones were not found, one Coachella attendee noticed that their phone had gone missing, and was able to use the Find My iPhone app to help the police locate the man who had snatched the device. While they recovered more than 100 devices, there are still hundreds more out there – likely in the hands of criminals. Since the other members of the ring turned the phones off, the true hero in the story is the victim who acted quickly enough to use a tracking app to locate the thief.

Even if you didn’t go to Coachella, stolen phones are (unfortunately) a common occurrence, which is why it’s important to have the correct security measures in place. Switching on the right features can be the difference between personal data lost forever, and a speedy device recovery. Check out the below suggestions for the settings to proactively implement (and avoid) in the event your device is stolen.

  • Look Alive: One of the best ways to avoid mobile phone theft is to stay aware of your surroundings. If you know where you are and where your smartphone is, you’re more likely to notice if a shady character is trying to take your device away.
  • Lock It Down: Secure your device using a complicated PIN or a passcode. If a thief gets their hands on your device, the last thing you want is for your phone to be easily broken into (or not secured with a pin at all). Apple changed from their original 4-digit passcode to a more complicated 6-digit passcode in recent years, which makes the likelihood of that thief guessing your passcode correctly 1 in 1 million, instead of 1 in 10,000 (as was the case with the 4-digit passcode). You can also apply two-factor authentication to your Apple ID, adding another layer of personal protection in the event that your passcode happens to be that 1 in 1 million.
  • Back It Up: Keep your data backed up to the cloud, a physical drive, or heck, even to both (that’s our recommendation) to ensure maximum safety. By doing this, you’ll still have access to all personal data saved if the phone is wiped after being snatched. Whether you need to get a replacement phone, or recover your phone from the thief, you can upload the most recent back up­–so make sure you do this often! You can set up auto-backups to the cloud, and know that you won’t be stuck wishing you had backed up recent pictures and contacts after it’s too late.
  • Install Software: There are many different phone apps that exist to help keep mobile devices safe through phone-tracking and mobile security software. McAfee Mobile Security offers anti-theft protection, so you can locate your missing device on a map and switch on an alarm that will help you find it fast. Through the app, you can also lock the phone, back it up, and wipe it to make sure all your data is protected.
  • Since you don’t want your phone to die while you’re hunting for it, an app that helps manage battery life like the Mobile Booster is key. It allows you to monitor data usage and save battery life by turning off unnecessary apps and settings running in the background. If anything does happen to your mobile device, you’ll have ample time to search for it before it loses power.
  • Disable Auto-Logins: Sure, auto-logins to apps may make life easier, but taking the extra 10 seconds to login to social media accounts or email is worth keeping your personal information safe. We keep so much data about our personal lives, our loved ones, and sometimes people we hardly know inside these tiny devices, so it’s important to protect their privacy as well as your own.

Over 10 million devices were stolen globally in the first two months of 2016, and 36% of stolen cell phones were not blocked by their operators. This means that the criminals behind each theft potentially gained access to the data stored on each device. It’s vital to implement these security settings so that your device can be locked down and found should a theft occur.
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