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My phone’s been stolen! Tips on preventing and resolving headaches

No one likes to consider the possibility, but, unfortunately, it’s best to face the fact that your phone can get stolen in the blink of an eye. 

Situations like this are inevitably coupled with a series of frustrations. After all, we’re not only talking about financial loss. There’s an emotional element, too. However, frustrations now overcome, you suddenly remember there are loads of other really important elements at risk: your personal and sensitive information.

Nowadays, our phones are practically a part of us and function like a digital ID to access an array of online services. Your contacts list, conversations with friends and family members, corporate secrets, online banking applications... Have you stopped to think about the chaos someone evil-minded could cause with so much data in their hands?

With this in mind, we decided to list a few tips to prevent bigger headaches if ever you lose your device. At the end of the article, we also offer suggestions on resolving situations – in case everything else goes wrong.

1) Use efficient screen locks

A four-digit PIN? A pattern drawn on the screen? These layers of protection can easily be broken through by experienced cybercriminals. Most mobile phones sold in today’s market allow the use of biometric technology, like authentication through facial recognition or fingerprints. Never ever leave your phone unattended without a screen lock enabled!

2) Protect your critical apps with additional layers of protection

If a criminal gains access to your phone when it’s unlocked, the first thing they’ll do is access your bank applications. Lucky for you, almost all already allow (and some even oblige!) the use of additional layers of authentication to gain access – including biometric verification. Also, remember to use complex passwords to confirm financial transactions.

3) Use the WhatsApp PIN

The world’s most popular instant messaging app, WhatsApp, already offers the option of an additional layer comprised of a six-digit numeric PIN. This PIN is required every so often when the app is opened, preventing criminals from using it to scam people in your contact list.

4) Configure anti-theft resources and apps

The market’s leading operating systems (Android and iOS) already offer native resources that allow you to completely block a device if it is stolen. We recommend you to learn more about the functionalities of these tools.

It’s been stolen! What now?

We hope you never actually have to go through something like this. However, if you do, you must know which steps to take. In case of theft, do the following:

  • Access the tool for your operating system to block a device definitively and erase all data.

  • Get in touch with your bank immediately to request that any cash transfers also be blocked, especially if the phone was unlocked at the time of theft.

  • Get hold of your mobile network provider and ask them to block your SIM card, to prevent criminals from using the number to receive two-factor authentication codes.

  • File a police report, if possible, online.

  • Once you have a copy of the police report, request that your phone’s IMEI number be blocked. 

  • Change the passwords for all applications installed on the device.

Article originally written in Portuguese by Perallis Security Content Team: Roubaram meu celular! Dicas para prevenir e remediar dores de cabeça — Perallis Security