Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to find a Lost or Stolen Android phone

692px-Criminal-Minds.svgIf you were not aware, I am an active user on Android Enthusiasts, and I try to help anyone that I can. Over the past 2 years that I have been active on Android Enthusiasts there has been a fair number of questions regarding someone losing their phone.

Usually someone answers the question by telling the person to install Plan B, and this may be a great application. And I do encourage you to try to use this application. I hope it works for you, I truly do.

Now let me tell you a little bit about the reality of using an application like this. Let me use the scenario of being at a bar. You leave your phone on the bar top, someone walks by, while you are having a conversation or a toast with friends, grabs your phone and continues walking. The thief can stop all data and calls to the phone in seconds by taking the battery out of the phone. Now they have a device that is completely off and will not receive any calls or text messages.

If the thief wants your data he will have to put the battery back in, but he doesn’t have to boot in to Android. Booting the device in to the recovery could give the thief enough access to get to data on the device. But to be honest, 9 times out of 10, the thief doesn’t care about your data. He wants the $600+ device that he stole from you. So that means all the thief has to do is put the battery back in, boot to the recovery and do a factory reset.

Do you know what that means? None of these “find my phone” apps will work because you wont be able to install them, and they will not be installed if you already have them installed. Why? Because the phone is no longer tied to your google account and all the applications, and data associated with them is gone once the person did the factory reset.

I know what you may be thinking, how do I protect my phone from being stolen? Well, again, if someone does steal your phone, or you lose it, try an app like Plan B. But don’t be surprised when you don’t get any information back. The best advice I can give you is this: You paid $600 (or more) for your phone, (even if you got it on contract for only a couple hundred, you still end up paying over $600 for it) treat it like it should be treated. Like a $600 piece of equipment. Would you leave your laptop just laying around? How about your car keys? Would you leave your front door on your house open? So why do you leave your phone laying around. Remember your phone has potentially more personal information about you than any other one thing you own, and it fits in a pocket.

Another thing you should do in the event that your phone is stolen or lost is to call your carrier. Get the IMEI number from your carrier, if you don’t have it. Report it stolen to your carrier. This will flag it on their network and it won’t be able to be activated by anyone else on the carriers network. You should also file a report with the police, if it was stolen. Giving the authorities the IMEI number will also help as they can contact the carrier and request additional information from the carrier and maybe have some luck in tracking the phone down.

Good luck, I hope you do not have your device stolen.

How to find a Lost or Stolen Android phone

692px-Criminal-Minds.svgIf you were not aware, I am an active user on Android Enthusiasts, and I try to help anyone that I can. Over the past 2 years that I have been active on Android Enthusiasts there has been a fair number of questions regarding someone losing their phone.

Usually someone answers the question by telling the person to install Plan B, and this may be a great application. And I do encourage you to try to use this application. I hope it works for you, I truly do.

Now let me tell you a little bit about the reality of using an application like this. Let me use the scenario of being at a bar. You leave your phone on the bar top, someone walks by, while you are having a conversation or a toast with friends, grabs your phone and continues walking. The thief can stop all data and calls to the phone in seconds by taking the battery out of the phone. Now they have a device that is completely off and will not receive any calls or text messages.

If the thief wants your data he will have to put the battery back in, but he doesn’t have to boot in to Android. Booting the device in to the recovery could give the thief enough access to get to data on the device. But to be honest, 9 times out of 10, the thief doesn’t care about your data. He wants the $600+ device that he stole from you. So that means all the thief has to do is put the battery back in, boot to the recovery and do a factory reset.

Do you know what that means? None of these “find my phone” apps will work because you wont be able to install them, and they will not be installed if you already have them installed. Why? Because the phone is no longer tied to your google account and all the applications, and data associated with them is gone once the person did the factory reset.

I know what you may be thinking, how do I protect my phone from being stolen? Well, again, if someone does steal your phone, or you lose it, try an app like Plan B. But don’t be surprised when you don’t get any information back. The best advice I can give you is this: You paid $600 (or more) for your phone, (even if you got it on contract for only a couple hundred, you still end up paying over $600 for it) treat it like it should be treated. Like a $600 piece of equipment. Would you leave your laptop just laying around? How about your car keys? Would you leave your front door on your house open? So why do you leave your phone laying around. Remember your phone has potentially more personal information about you than any other one thing you own, and it fits in a pocket.

Another thing you should do in the event that your phone is stolen or lost is to call your carrier. Get the IMEI number from your carrier, if you don’t have it. Report it stolen to your carrier. This will flag it on their network and it won’t be able to be activated by anyone else on the carriers network. You should also file a report with the police, if it was stolen. Giving the authorities the IMEI number will also help as they can contact the carrier and request additional information from the carrier and maybe have some luck in tracking the phone down.

Good luck, I hope you do not have your device stolen.