Lost smartphone? Here's what to do: Talking Tech podcast

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Hey there listeners, it’s Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech. Of all the tech issues that can happen to any one of us perhaps one of the worst feelings is realizing that you may have lost your smartphone, or you in fact lost your smartphone. We have so much of our personal information tagged to these devices, whether it’s our banking info, our social media, our emails, all the photos and videos of our loved ones. It is the one device where if you lose it it just feels like the worst possible thing that could happen.

Of course your first instinct is to panic because you’re just trying to find your phone and you can’t find it anywhere. We’re going to offer you some tips on what to do if you lose your phone. My colleague, Marc Saltzman, wrote a column about this. You can read it on tech.usatoday.com. If you lose your iPhone or lose your android phone these are the steps that you take to protect yourself.

One of the first things you want to do if you feel like you’ve lost your phone is call it right away. Find a friend, find anyone with a phone, borrow their phone and give it a call. See if someone picks up. There is a good chance somebody see the phone or hears the phone, picks it up, and then you can talk to that person hopefully and find a way to meet and get your phone back.

If that doesn’t work you could also send a text message, again so it pops up on a locked screen. So say if your phone is locked and the person who finds it can’t access it, they can at least see the message that pops up in notifications. So you can send a message that basically says, “I lost my phone. Here’s how to contact me.” Maybe that’s a step you can take to potentially find your phone.

If for some reason those don’t work, this is probably one of the most important features on your smartphone, and if for some reason you have not enabled this I encourage you to enable this as soon as possible, there are apps on both iPhones and android devices that are either called Find My Phone or Find My Mobile that have the ability to locate your phone, and you can also do other things with it as well. You can remotely have it beep out loud, or you can even erase it remotely, which is probably the most important thing, especially if you know your phone is lost for good and you have so much personal information on it that you don’t want other folks to get ahold of.

To do this iPhone you go to the Find My app. You can do this on another Apple device, but you can also do it on a computer, which in most cases for folks, you’ve lost your phone, the first place you might want to go to is your computer. Go to icloud.com/find. You’ll log in with the same Apple ID that your phone is on, and it’ll show a map. It’ll show you where your phone is. You’ll have a good approximate location of where your phone is.

You can do a couple things. You can play a sound on it so that it just rings loudly. You can remotely erase your phone. You can put it in lost mode, where it will leave a message on the screen with the info of how to find you to return the phone. It will also deactivate a lot of features as well, such as Apple Pay.

On an android phone a very similar process. You go to a website, android.com/find and you’ll see a lot of the same options, a timeline of where your phone last was. You can play sounds from it and you can remotely erase it.

The other thing you want to do though too if you really did lose your phone, and even with the ability to remotely wipe your device, go ahead and change all the passwords on your accounts. It’s a huge pain. I get it. It takes a lot of effort. It is well worth the time just to be safe, to secure everything, because in the off chance that maybe you didn’t put a PIN on your phone, that leaves you open to someone having access to everything on your device, so definitely change those passwords.

If you have a PIN and they can’t access your phone you’re okay, but, again, it’s always good to do this. You never want to assume that someone can’t get in your phone for whatever reason.

You can also contact your wireless carrier so they can disable it. Also let the authorities know too. In the event you do find your phone and it’s somewhere you’re not sure about you could always contact authorities and they can help you get your phone back.

Again, a very harrowing experience in terms of the tech world, but there are some steps you can take to hopefully get your device back, or at least get you in a position where you’re protecting yourself and protecting your data.

Listeners, let’s hear from you if you have any comments, questions or show ideas. Have you ever had this experience, losing your phone? What was that like? How did you recover from that? Let us know on Twitter. I’m @brettmolina23. Please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts. Don’t forget you can get Talking Tech right in your inbox. Go to newsletters.usatoday.com to subscribe.

You’ve been listening to Talking Tech. We’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.

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