8 Ways You Can Locate a Missing Cell Phone

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Losing your phone can be a devastating experience these days, with all the information we typically keep stored on those devices, and all the access they provide to things like bank accounts, personal messages, business communication, and more. It’s important to always know where your device is and to keep it safe and secure with proper locking mechanisms, but it’s equally important to know what to do in case it does get lost.

Thankfully, modern technology has done a lot to make it easier to track down a missing smartphone if you know what tools to use and act quickly enough, so there are at least some benefits to owning a more advanced smartphone if you want to stay safe.

1) Call the Phone

Get the most obvious out of the way first – call the device to make sure that it’s not somewhere around your house. If not, you could also count on the chance that whoever finds it will be responsible enough to pick up the call and arrange a meeting to return the phone to you. It won’t always work, but when it does, it will cut out a large portion of work from your day(s) and will make everything much simpler for you.

2) Go to the Police

If you still have some important information about your phone – like your IMEI – the police can potentially track it down as soon as it’s turned on. Keep in mind that your success rate with this method is going to depend largely on how interested your local police officers are going to be in your case. Don’t be surprised if they refuse to take you seriously and use their resources to track down your phone, especially if it’s an area with a higher crime rate. It can’t hurt to try though.

3) Use Your Phone’s Native Tracking Feature

Every modern smartphone OS has built-in tracking functionality that can help you locate your device if it’s turned on and in range of location services. This assumes that you actually had that featured turned on to begin with though, as there are rarely any ways to activate it remotely. In addition, it won’t work if the person in possession of your device has been able to unlock it and disable its location services, although this may depend on the specific implementation used by your manufacturer. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tracking functionality of your phone in advance, before you even need to use it, as it will be much more difficult to handle things later on if it’s not active.

4) Use a Tracking App

There are various apps on the market that can give you constant access to a device remotely, sometimes without even alerting the current user that they’re being tracked. They don’t cost much (in most cases), and come packed full of advanced functionality that can help you not only track down your device, but also potentially find out exactly who’s stolen it, where they can be found, and even some personal details about them (depending on how much they use your phone after it’s been stolen). These apps can be a life-saver when you have no idea where to even begin searching for your lost device, and there’s a reason more and more companies are installing them on their secure devices.

5) Check Your Device’s Location History

If you keep your location services turned on regularly, you might be able to get some insight about your phone’s current place by checking its location history. Google have a particularly detailed one on Android, and it can make it very easy to figure out where your phone’s gone off to in case it’s still activated. Keep in mind that location services can easily be obstructed by various forms of external interference, so they’re not a flawless method to rely on. When it comes to a more expensive device, you’ll definitely want to consider a more specialized method like we described above.

6) Watch Social Media Accounts for Activity

Depending on who’s stolen your phone, they might be tempted to use your social media apps for their own activities. It might sound outlandish, but it actually happens more often than you might think, and it’s a common way for thieves to get caught. Keep an eye on your social media accounts to see if any new activity pops up. Some apps might even show you who’s logged in and from what IP addresses, and you might be able to use that in conjunction with a police report to obtain the identity of the person in possession of your device. This will involve some complicated legal procedures with the ISP of the person in question, but it’s worth a try.

7) Check Pawn Shops

A common trick used by people looking for lost devices is to check into pawn shops and similar places in the area that might often carry stolen goods. Keep in mind that even if you do find your device in this manner, getting it back might be a bit of a challenge, especially with shadier businesses. That’s why you should always start the process with a police report if you don’t have any way of tracking the device down yourself, as this will give you the leverage you need when negotiating with the pawn shop. In fact, there won’t even be any negotiation – they’ll be required to give it back if it’s provably yours.

8) Offer a Reward

Last but not least, it can’t hurt to put up some reward offer for the device if its contents were particularly valuable. While the person who stole it will obviously not turn it in themselves, some of their friends might be tempted to turn them in if the reward is attractive enough. However, in this case you’ll have to deal with the basic problem of figuring out an appropriate reward size – after all, if the person can easily sell the phone for more than what you’re offering, they’ll probably never even think of contacting you at all.


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