You don't even want to imagine it-- your cell phone being lost or stolen. Beyond the cost of replacing the phone, the information it has stored on it is invaluable, and could be jeopardized if it falls into the wrong hands.
Here is what you need to do before and after your phone goes missing to protect yourself and your information:
Make sure your phone requires a PIN or passcode for use. Avoid obvious combinations that are sequential or repeat, or are based off of a recent year.
Back up your information to a "cloud" service. Or, export it to an external device like a USB drive.
Download an app that allows you to locate, lock, and erase your phone remotely.
If your phone is missing, report it lost or stolen to your carrier ASAP and contact the police. Request written confirmation from the carrier that you reported the device missing. You are responsible for fees incurred before, but not after you report it missing.
If you haven't found your phone within 30 minutes, use your anti-theft app to erase your phone remotely (the information will still be stored in the cloud). If you don't have the ability to erase remotely, call the carrier and have them do it for you.
For more information on protecting your identity and personal information, and other important topics like avoiding scams and
frauds, and building better credit, order or download the Consumer
Action Handbook from USA.gov.
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