When your cell phone is stolen, it can feel like your identity is stolen as well.
You lose phone numbers, pictures, appointments and the money it cost you to buy the phone in the first place. First, take a deep breath. Next, get to work protecting yourself, and maybe even finding what you’ve lost.
Before you do anything, call your cell phone provider and have your account suspended before the thief can make expensive calls or text messages. It’s important to do this right away because, unlike credit card companies, most cell phone companies don’t forgive fraudulent charges easily. Once your account is suspended, however, you shouldn’t have to worry about additional charges.
The next thing you should do is file a police report. It’s relatively easy to file a police report (just call 311 in most major cities), and it can be helpful to have an official record that your phone was stolen, if some charges have been applied to your account before you could suspend it. You should also request a formal investigation from your phone company. This will prevent them from sending any fraudulent charges to collections while you are in the middle of a dispute.
Some phone companies offer GPS tracking service for phones. If your phone is equipped with this service, your phone company may be able to ping your phone to help locate it. Even with GPS tracking, the location isn’t that precise. You might be able to find it within a range of 100 yards. Be careful when you go looking for it, though. If your phone was stolen, you might enter a dangerous situation trying to get it back. Passing off this information to the police is a safer route.
In the future, there are some things you can do to minimize the damage if your cell phone gets stolen again. Make sure you use the lock/password feature to limit access to your phone. Passwords can be broken, but they can buy you enough time to suspend the account. Also, consider cell phone insurance, available either through your phone company or a private insurer. This usually covers the cost of a replacement phone in case of theft, loss or damage.
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