What to Do Before (and After) Your Phone Is Stolen

by ANDREW HEINZMAN

A gloved hand stealing a phone from a purse.

Millions of phones are stolen every year, and there’s a chance yours could be one of them. But it doesn’t have to be—you can make your phone theftproof! We’ll show you how, and what you should do if your phone is stolen.

Enable Remote Tracking
Remote tracking (called “Find My Device” on Android and “Find My iPhone” on iOS) gives you the ability to track a phone’s location and remotely wipe its data. This means you can find your phone if it’s missing or wipe its data if it’s stolen.

If you’re using an Android phone, go to “Settings,” open the Google option, scroll down to “Security,” and enable “Find My Device.” You can then track your phone or wipe its data from the Find Your Phone webpage.

If you’re using an iPhone, go to “Settings,” tap your Apple ID (your name), open the “iCloud settings,” and enable “Find My iPhone.” Now, you can track or wipe your phone from the iCloud website.

Use a Strong Password
A complicated lock screen password can be a pain in the neck, but it’s the best way to prevent thieves from digging around your phone. Try to set a strong password on all your devices. Ideally, a password should contain capital letters, numbers, and symbols. (You can use the How Secure Is My Password tool to ensure you’re using an uncrackable password.)

A hand typing a passcode into a phone.

If you don’t want to type a complicated password every time you use your phone, enable biometric authentication. Face ID, and iris or fingerprint scanning are great, secure options.

Make Notifications Private
If you’re concerned about thieves reading text messages and notifications on your lock screen, you can hide the contents of those notifications on the lock screen.

On an Android device, go to “Settings,” open “Sound and Notifications,” find the “When Device Is Locked” option, and then set it to “Hide Sensitive Notification Content.” If you press “Don’t Show Notifications At All,” you won’t see notifications even when your phone is unlocked (not necessarily a bad thing).

On an iPhone, go to “Settings,” open the “Notifications” menu, and tap the “Show Previews” option. From here, you can hide notification previews on the lock screen or get rid of them altogether.

If you have an iPhone with Face ID, it hides notifications from your lock screen until you unlock your phone by default. This prevents a thief from seeing notifications with security codes without unlocking your phone.

Enable Cloud Syncing
If you care about the data on your phone, you should enable cloud syncing. Trust us—remotely wiping your phone feels a lot less scary when you know all your photos and contacts are backed up on the cloud.

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