Lost Phone

How to recover an already lost cell phone – old-school methods that work

So the unfortunate event has struck you – you have lost your cell phone and you have not installed cell phone tracking software/app or activated a phone tracking service in advance (remember this preventive measure allows you to get the pinpoint location of your device).

What can you do then? Well here come the obvious and not-so-obvious methods to retrieving your cell phone the old-school way:

The obvious: the simple tricks

Call your phone from another one. I know this is obvious, but this is the first thing you should do to save you stress, preferably as early on in the process. It is most likely in your vicinity. However, if it is left at a office, someone’s home or even in a public place, someone is likely to pick up and you will be able to arrange the device’s retrieval. Try this method irrespective of what the chances of retrieval are.

No answer:
Do not call more than three times on different occasions. It probably means that no one has found it or if stolen, you will probably get no response. Do not call a thousand times to the phone, as it might get turned off, or the SIM card removed in case your cell phone is stolen.

Make sure to call from a friend’s phone that is stored in your address book, this makes it look less suspicious. If you call from a friend’s cell phone, it looks as if a friend called and nothing more. Avoid calling from withheld or unknown numbers. However, if time is of the essence and you do not have another phone nearby, turn on Skype and give a ring.

The not-so-obvious

Send an SMS to your own phone, or call from a friend’s number, offering a reward to the person who is in possession of it. This is how to find a lost cell phone if you have no other means to track it. It is true that it will cost you something, but this cost will be just a fraction of the real value of the handset and the information on it.

For example:

Hi! I lost this phone. If you see this message please call XXX-XXX. Monetary reward will be provided. Thank you!

How to respond if someone pick’s up the cell phone:

Be polite, and offer a reward. A good response can be the following:

Thank you so much, how nice of you that you found my phone, you are my savior! It would be great if we can meet so I can get my phone back. I would really like to reward you for helping me find my phone. Once again, thank you so much!

(Or equivalent)

Do not come out as rude and demanding, even if it has been stolen and you know it (keep cool):

What the hell are you doing with my phone!? I’ll call the police and sue you! Give it back, right now!

A recent study shows that half of lost cell phones get returned (see Symantec Lost Smartphone Study from 2012). By contacting the person before they contact you, you considerably increase your chances to retrieve your lost cell phone. It definitely pays to be polite and cool in your replies, and don’t forget to offer a reward.

If none of the above tricks work, make sure to:

Contact your local police station and let them know that your phone has been stolen. Provide a detailed description of where you lost the phone or gotten it stolen, date and time it went missing, phone model/brand, IMEI no., if you contacted the thief, if you know the exact location etc. It is not serious to call emergency service if your cell phone has gone missing.

Inform your phone service provider. Provide copies of your phone receipts & police paperwork. See if you can get a new SIM card.

Let your friends, family and co-workers know that your cell phone is missing or has been stolen.

Change all your passwords for any accounts, if you had them stored on your cell phone, let’s say in emails.

Learn from your mistakes, take preventive measures next time:

  • Install tracking apps or acquire tracking services.
  • Add password protection.
  • Make your contact details easily available on the cell phone so the finder can contact you easily.
  • Save your IMEI number.
  • Keep your cell phone receipt, for ownership and insurance purposes (if you have any).
  • Find good cell phone insurance (if you have an expensive phone) that covers more than just loss & theft.

Do you know of other smart ways to find a already lost cell phone? Improve this page, leave a comment.

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