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What to do if you lose your cell phone

What to do if you lose your cell phone

What to do if you lose your cell phone

Tens of millions of phones are lost or stolen each year. If it happens to you, there are steps you can take to find your phone or at least prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

First, enable the find function, so that if your phone really is lost (not buried in your couch) you can see it on a map, play a sound, lock it or erase it. There are different ways of doing this, depending on whether your phone is an Android or iPhone.

We’ll walk you through the basic steps.

Finding your Android phone

If your phone is linked to a Google account (and you’re signed in), Find My Device is on by default. But for the function to work, your phone must:

  • Be turned on.
  • Be signed into a Google account.
  • Be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi.
  • Be visible on Google Play.
  • Have Location turned on.
  • Have Find My Device turned on.

Is Find My Device switched on? Let’s check.

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Security & Location. (If you don’t see Security & Location, tap Google > Security.)
  • Tap Find My Device.
  • Turn on Remotely locate this device and Allow remote lock and erase.

Is Location switched on?

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Security & Location > Location. (If you don’t see Security & Location, tap Location.)
  • Turn on Location.

Is your phone visible on Google Play? If it’s not visible, it won’t show up when you try to use Find My Device.

Can you find your device? Let’s see.

  • Go to and sign into your Google account.

If you want to use one Android device to find another, install the Find My Device app on all your devices. You’ll find it at the Google Play store.

OK, so you’ve lost your phone. Now what? You can see it on a map, play a sound, lock it or erase it. Here’s how.

  • Go to and sign in to your Google account.
  • If you have more than one device, click the device that’s lost at the top of the screen.
  • You’ll see a map that displays the location of your device. (The location is approximate. If your device can’t be found, you’ll see its last known location, if available.)
  • You can click Play Sound and your device will ring at full volume for 5 minutes, even if it’s set to silent or vibrate.
  • You can click Enable Lock & Erase. Choose Lock you’ll lock your device with your PIN, pattern or password. If you don’t have one, you can set one at this time. To help someone return your device to you, you can add a message or phone number to the lock screen. Choose Erase and you’ll permanently delete all data on your device. After you erase, Find My Device won’t work on the device anymore.

You can also search “find my phone” at Google and proceed from there.

Here’s Google’s nifty video on how to find your device:

Finding your iPhone

Find My iPhone is similar to Android’s Find My Device function. You can see your iPhone or iPad on a map, make it ring, lock it or erase it. The feature must be switched on or it won’t work.

Here’s how to set it up.

  • Go to your home screen.
  • Tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud. (If you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud.)
  • Scroll down and tap Find My iPhone.
  • Toggle on Find My iPhone and Send Last Location.
  • If you’re asked to sign in, enter your Apple ID.

When you set up Find My iPhone, your paired Apple Watch and AirPods are automatically set up too. And when you turn on Find My iPhone, Activation Lock is enabled automatically and, from that point on, your Apple ID password or device passcode is required before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone, erase your device or reactivate and use your device.

So you’ve lost your iPhone (or iPad). Now what? You can play a sound, see it on a map, lock it or erase it. Here’s how:

  • Go to and sign into your account.
  • In the main menu, click on Find iPhone.
  • Sign in again if you’re prompted.
  • Click on All Devices at the top of the map.
  • Click on the device you want to track.
  • You can click Play Sound and your device (or AirPods) will play an audible tone for 2 minutes, even if they’re set to vibrate or silent. If your device is offline, it will play a sound when it’s next online.
  • You can choose Lost Mode and immediately lock your device and begin tracking it. You can see where it’s been over the past 24 hours. You can also display a custom message with your contact number on the lock screen, so whoever finds your device can call you. Apple Pay will be disabled and any credit or debit cards set-up on Apple Pay will be suspended on the device, even if it’s offline.
  • You can select Erase, delete all your personal data and restore your device to its factory settings. (If you get it back, you can restore your device from your iCloud backup.) Activation Lock will remain on to protect your device. If your device is offline when you start the erase function, it will begin when the device is next online.

You can also use the Find My iPhone app to locate one Apple device with another. The steps for the app are similar to the steps above.

If you have lost your phone, don’t forget to contact your carrier right away. They can help you keep your accounts safe and replace your phone.