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If your iPhone is no longer in your possession, you might never see it again and the last thing you want to worry about is data security. Here’s what you need to do.

Data theft can be just as damaging (if not more so) than losing a very expensive gadget. Your iPhone might be your pride and joy, but just imagine if someone gained access to your email, bank or social media accounts – wouldn’t that potentially be worse?

Here’s what to do when the unthinkable happens.

Use Find My iPhone

With the power of iCloud it’s now possible to locate your device provided it still has access to some sort of data connection (cellular or Wi-Fi). This won’t work if your device is not using the Find My Phone service (by default you have to opt out), has run out of battery or was last seen in Airplane Mode, but it’s certainly worth a shot.

Head over to iCloud.com, login with your Apple ID and the same password you use to authorise app purchases and click on Find My iPhone. iCloud will attempt to locate your device, if found you can take a note of whether it’s moving, whether it’s down the back of the sofa or indeed whether it appears somewhere entirely different to where you last had it – in which case, it’s probably been stolen.

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Using iCloud.com it’s possible to initiate a remote wipe of the phone, which will cause the phone to reset itself to factory settings and preserve your data. Do this by logging in, clicking on Find My iPhone then selecting the device and enabling Lost Mode. Don’t forget to leave a message and a phone number in the hope that whoever took it might actually return it How To Use Find My iPhone To Get Your Stolen iPhone Back How To Use Find My iPhone To Get Your Stolen iPhone Back Long story short: my wife had her iPhone stolen when she misplaced it at work the other day. I was instantly able to log into her iCloud account and follow the device all the way... Read More (or leave it somewhere, at least).

If your phone has been stolen but remains traceable, you may want to hand the information over to the police. There have been a few examples where law enforcement have used Apple’s Find My iPhone location data to recover stolen devices, though be prepared that this may not be the case.

activation_lock_2.jpg

If your phone has been updated to iOS 7, you’ve got another safety net in place in the form of Activation Lock. Even after wiping the device, it will require your own personal Apple ID and password to be usable. Until these credentials are provided, the phone will refuse to work as intended. It’s useless to the thief, and not even Apple will unlock it.

You can tell if your phone has been updated to iOS 7 first and foremost by the graphical style. Apple introduced a new, cleaner interface. You can see the difference at-a-glance in the screenshot above (iOS 7 is on the right). You can also head over to Settings > General > About and look at the number under Version.

If you’re reading this before your phone has been stolen (touch wood, it won’t be) this is just another compelling reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

What If You Can’t Find It?

If you can’t find your phone (and for the very security conscious out there, even if you can) there are still a few things you should do to ensure your most important accounts remain safe.

Your personal email address is probably more important than you realise. It’s where your password resets go, quite possibly your Apple ID is registered there and I bet you’ve got a bank account or similar financial service that uses it too. Access to this (and any, connected work email addresses could be just as devastating) should be revoked immediately upon noticing your phone has gone walkies.

Changing your password is often enough to require a re-authentication for your various devices, though if you’re using an application-specific password for logging in (such as those provided with Gmail’s two-factor authentication) then you can just revoke access under security settings.

twitter-apps

Twitter and Facebook (among others) integrate with iOS 7 too. Revoke Twitter access by visiting Settings > Apps on Twitter’s main website (above), then clicking Revoke next to each entry. If you have core integration that won’t allow you to revoke access, simply change your main Twitter password and your phone’s login will then be outdated. Facebook’s approved apps can be revoked under Account Settings > Apps (below).

It’s especially important you do this as soon as physically possible if you were walking around without a passcode lock.

Once all account access has been revoked, you’ll probably want to cross your fingers that the thief or police are able to return your device. Having access to the IMEI (Settings > General > About) makes it easy to initialise a carrier-block, but iOS 7 takes care of much of the problem of stolen phones through Activation Lock.

Preventing Problems

At present, the best thing you can do is to lock your phone with a passcode or more adventurous password to delay any potential security breaches. Making sure you’ve got Find My iPhone running under Settings > iCloud will ensure your iPhone is traceable should it go missing. Upgrading to iOS 7 provides some peace of mind in the form of Activation Lock Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! Buying or Selling a Used iPhone or iPad Running iOS 7? Read This First! It's no secret that iOS is a secure operating system, but Apple's latest firmware update adds yet another level of protection for consumers. Read More , rendering the phone useless even after it has been erased.

Even if you think your phone is secure, there’s always a chance the thief will guess and gain access. For best security, don’t choose easy “1234” passcodes. You can read more about how disabling Control Centre may help protect your phone, as well as a breakdown of the current vulnerabilities faced by the iPhone 5S in our Touch ID security article Does the iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner Increase The Chance of Theft? Does the iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner Increase The Chance of Theft? The iPhone's new fingerprint sensor seems like a great way to use biometrics to keep the device secure and personal, but could the feature be used against the owner to circumvent existing protections? Read More .

If you’ve had your iPhone stolen then we’d love to hear your story – did you get it back? Did you use Find my iPhone?

  1. richelle
    June 4, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Also, how true if my lost iPhone can be jailbreaked? Is there a way I will find out if they disk this? Hope my email will be notified if you will leave a message? Tysm!

  2. Richelle
    June 4, 2016 at 12:16 am

    My phone got stolen iPhone 6 Plus and was able to track it through find my iPhone but unable to go inside the factory located because it was night and we couldn't enter it and talk to their management. So the thief was able to get out the factory without us knowing. So it was like 2x went back to that location. So I suggest to be more careful and plan thoroughly when retrieving ur phone so not to be fooled around there specially if those people near that place might be their allies. Anyway, the phone s now offline so the only one appeared in find my iPhone is the last trace and the time it was there. So we tried looking in the last trace and check cctv unfortunately it was hard to analyze because the mall only shows the part that it was open..anyway we had a feeling the first time the thief moved away from his location it went there and the last time which we are certain around 11pm, we are unable to check in cctv that's y everything went off. Anyway we have a suspect in the cctv but can't be certain because the cctv is blurred. So unfortunately I wasn't able to retrieve my phone. It was 2 days now and I got new iPhone so I was thinking if I still can use my old Apple ID? I already locked my previous SIM card.. I wish to get some of my important contacts there.. Is it safe? And can I still track it? So I have same iCloud with my lost phone? Thanks

  3. farter
    December 8, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    hello everyone! my iphone 5s was snatched 12/8/2015, if the iphone was in lost mode, can the snatcher open it or even restore??

  4. twinkoink
    October 25, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I lost my iPhone 6 on 28 June 2015. I activated the Lost Iphone mode and posted a message with my phone number. On 13 October, someone messaged & asked if I have lost a iphone. The phone had been found across the borders, 360km away from home where I lost it!!!! This person claimed that she has found my phone and had gotten my number from the message!
    I got my phone back a few days ago from the person and had verified that it really is my phone as it recognised my Apple ID. But the phone had been restored to factory settings & seems like all photos and data are gone. I still has not set up the phone as I am still hoping that there is a way to recover the photos and data.. The phone was not backup before it was lost for a long period of time....
    Can anyone here help me????

  5. Carol Bekar
    September 11, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Recently I lost my iPhone. But fortunately I gate it back using iLostFinder. This is awesome !!

  6. Ahmed Daher
    June 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Hi, I have lost my phone and I don't know how to find it. I have I cloud also but I was out for the night and i'm not how to trace it since it doesn't have battery.

    Please help!

  7. Siping Ke
    May 27, 2015 at 9:45 am

    I lost my iphone 5/27/15 and i dont know what to do. I didnt even put a password there. Im scared if tyje stealer would go and look at my personal stuffs and call who and text who and give money. Ugh. How can i find it. I look at the cctv.

  8. ismail Hossain
    May 24, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    my iphone 4s is lost on 23/05/2015. i have no imei and serial number and apple id . i can't find the phone. i live in dhaka and somebody tell don't find it. i don't have icloud. and find phone is off. i want find it ? please tell me a method how to possible it

    • Tim Brookes
      May 26, 2015 at 1:56 am

      Hi Ismail, You probably won't be able to find the phone if you weren't using iCloud, you'll need the "Find my Phone" service activated (as part of iCloud) in order to do so. It would also have meant that your phone would be locked to anyone trying to restore it, but seeing as you've said iCloud wasn't enabled on the phone then it will probably have been reset to factory by now. You must have used some sort of Apple ID for the phone to work at all, so I suggest you login at iCloud.com and double check you didn't have any services activated that you'd forgotten about. In order to block the phone (and make it useless to a thief) you'll need to contact your carrier (network) and ask them to block the phone. You may need the IMEI for this, or your phone company may already have a record (or, if you still have the phone box or receipt it will be printed on it). Without the IMEI, all they can do is disable your SIM (which you should have probably done by now anyway). When you get a new iPhone make sure you enable iCloud and Find my iPhone! Good luck, Tim

  9. ismail Hossain
    May 24, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    my iphone 4s is stolen. i have no imei and serial number and apple id . i can't find the phone. i live in dhaka and somebody tell don't find it. i don't have icloud. and find phone is off. i want to block phone can i ? please tell me a method to block

  10. Praveen
    May 15, 2015 at 4:24 am

    I have lost my iphone 5 while riding
    i have not logged in to icloud and i have not turned oned Find my phone
    nw how to track ?? can we track that through imei no or something like that ??
    someone please help me

  11. geri
    April 27, 2015 at 11:18 am

    my iphone 4 s is stolen .i have imei and serial number and apple id .i cant find the phone in station police because i live in albania and policy tell dont find .i dont have icloud .and find phone is off. i want to block phone can i ?please tell me a metod to block

  12. Jessborss
    April 24, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    My newly *4weeks old* iphone 6 was stolen, i am so worried because i didn't activated my "Activation Lock" yet, now it was stolen and id just created an icloud account at my computer after what happened. I tried to look at the "activation Lock status" and it says it's off. Although i have my passcode and apple ID signed in there, Is there any chance that they can use my phone and all my data are still there?

  13. Tim Brookes
    April 1, 2015 at 3:13 am

    Are you sure you didn't activate it? I'm pretty certain Find My Phone is enabled by default when you login to iCloud, so if you were using iCloud then there's a good chance you have enabled tracking too.

    Have you tried logging in at iCloud.com and looking for your device? If you find it I suggest you approach law enforcement with this information.

    Failing that, contact your carrier and get the IMEI blacklisted. The phone will be added to stolen database, and many carriers will refuse service. Even if the perpetrators can get around Apple's protections, the phone will be virtually useless without being able to reliably access the cellular network.

    Good luck!

  14. sehrish
    March 31, 2015 at 1:25 am

    hi there
    my iphone 6plus is stolen and i didnot activate find my iphone ...
    what to do now????

  15. NickNah
    March 18, 2015 at 2:52 am

    "Find my phone" shows my missing phone just outside a cluster of office buildings with a large green dot around it. I have my name and number on the back of the phone and whoever found it could have called me. I went to the place and pasted messages for a reward if my phone is returned but no calls after two days. Now "Find my Phone" shows it offline. Meanwhile, the iphone6 I ordered to replace it just arrived. My questions are:
    1. If I activate my new phone for the same phone number but still leaving my old phone in "Lost Mode", will "Find my phone" continue keeping track of the old phone? Been keeping track of it using my ipad.
    2. Will activating my new phone make my old phone become usable to whoever has it? It has IO7.
    I would appreciate any comments.
    I would appreciate hearing from anyone.

    • Tim Brookes
      March 18, 2015 at 3:03 am

      Hi,

      Sorry to hear that some scumbag walked off with your phone, that sucks. In terms of your questions:

      1) If you activate your new phone it will simply be added to your Apple ID as a device that is yours. For as long as your old phone remains locked to your iCloud account (according to Apple that's a permanent fixture until you remove it, which requires your password) then it will continue to be tracked.

      2) As far as I'm aware, your old phone will remain locked to you indefinitely. That is how it's supposed to work. There are a few black market methods used by thieves to try and circumvent this, but I'm not sure if they actually work or not.

      So you should definitely activate your new phone, it will show up as "'s iPhone 6". Your old phone will continue to be tracked for as long as it has battery and a connection to the Internet.

      Good luck, do let us know if you manage to recover it :)

  16. Mashoor
    March 3, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    HTC Desire 816 Dual Sim (White) / Stolen / Pickpocket @ Paharganj, New Delhi

    IMEI 1: 352706063830596
    IMEI 2: 352706063830604

    S/N: FA499WW01251

    if found pls return to Nabi Kareem Police Station New Delhi./India

  17. Slc
    January 14, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Is there a way to lock or wipe out all the info if there was no password OR find my iPad? It was stolen without a password and has since been blacklisted however, I have been so nervous thinking about what personal info may have been in it.

    This has been a VERY valuable lesson for my husband but in the meantime, can anything else be done other than blacklist?

  18. AMIT TRIPATHI
    December 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    My iphone was Stolen in delhi and find my iphone is on and icloud show my phone is offline, i do the police complaint but there is also no response and 11 EMI is pending i am felling very guilty because police can't find my cell phone and "Find My Iphone" is show you device is offline if any other way please help me.. :'(

  19. Jayalakshmi Sivan
    December 19, 2014 at 9:21 am

    my iphone was stolen.... and i have got an apple id ......can IMEI number help me find it . I have lodged a complaint in the police station. i did nt get it back still. Help me :(

  20. Jane
    March 30, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    my iphone 5 was stolen, used find my phone app, put the phone in lost mode. And bam !!!! my phone was found about an hour away from where I live, So I called the police and they came with me to the house, I knocked on the door, losers answered the door at first denying they had my phone, I showed them the app on my ipad showing a map leading me to their property. so got my phone back, losers took happy snaps of themselves on my phone, so I shared those photos on social media , with the title 'thieving scumbags' :)

    • Tim B
      March 31, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Thank you for sharing Jane, I absolutely love a story like that. It's great that law enforcement are embracing the technology put in place by manufacturers. You did the right thing by acting quickly – delay and it could be too late.

  21. Lekha
    February 26, 2014 at 5:28 am

    My iPhone has been stolen. find my iphone is of no use. couldnt get it back.

  22. Tim B
    January 29, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Go to iCloud.com

    Login with your Apple ID

    Click Find my iPhone

    Wait and see!

    • MADIHA
      February 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      thanx for your help tim B but when i click on find my iphone i found this msg: all devices offline so i think i lost my iphone

  23. MADIHA
    January 29, 2014 at 10:07 am

    a few days later my iphone was stolen but i didn t install find my iphone. so what i have to do if i want get it back?

  24. Andrew
    December 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    If you never enabled Find My Iphone and want to try to track your iphone using IMEI number these guys do that: http://www.iphonetrace.com/
    Not sure about other phones though, I think they only work with Iphones.

    • MADIHA
      February 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      i take a glimpe and i found that i must pay ; but i ask if it s secure site and how i could know that s true

  25. Shellbells
    December 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I was at dairy queen just a couple days ago and had my iphone sitting on the table by all my stuff and when I came back to sit down with my food my iphone was gone I installed find my iphone but it keeps saying its offline so I think I can say my iphone is gone.

  26. Joyce
    November 19, 2013 at 5:17 am

    About a year and a half ago my iphone was stolen in a casino while visiting Reno, NV. Later that evening I was reading on my ipad about ways to possibly retrieve it. I installed Find My iPhone at that time. My phone turned up on a map showing it to be across town. I sent a msg including their own address and asked them to return it to the casino security or I would turn over their address to the police. The next day I once again looked at the map. This time it showed my phone at the casino! Thank you Find My iPhone!

  27. DMZ
    November 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Agree with TPhil above. No cell phones, no trouble!

  28. TPhil
    November 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Stolen iphone? Good, don't look for it

    • logan
      February 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      Life too boring for you?

  29. Linda R
    November 13, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Three years ago my husband accidently left his iPod in his car when he went to work. He forgot to charge it the night before and was charging it with his car charger. He works as a manager at a local cheese factory and didn't think it was necessary to lock his car in the secured parking lot. He realized at lunchtime when he usually plays a video game or two that it was gone and remembered leaving it plugged into the car. It was gone as was the charging cord. He tried all of the usual ways to retrieve it to no avail. About three months later he was back in the lunch/locker room when he heard two of our grandchildren laughing and talking. Of course they were not there, but their voices were coming out of one of the lockers. Security opened the locker and there was my husband's iPod with a video playing that the kids accidently taped while playing with his iPod during one our Sunday visists. The woman who had stolen it didn't even attempt tp erase anything. It was filled with mostly gaming apps and I guess she didn't want to erase all of them to start over; who knows? We had already replaced the iPod with a newer model anyway so he gave it to the kids who had made the video.
    He learned a valuable lesson and we now use the Find My iPhone option on all our devices. It has helped us find iPads, iPhones and iPod's more than once under couch cushions, pillows and even pants pockets. With 6 kids and 18 grandchildren, we collectively have a lot of Apple devices to protect.

  30. James
    November 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    If you're in the UK you can add your device to the National property register on immobilise.com, I think this works in some other countries too. Police look on there if a device is handed in and get can't see who's it is easily. It's free to use too.

    • Tim B
      November 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks for letting us know!

  31. lurch1963
    November 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Disable the option to delete software otherwise the first thing the thief will do is delete "find my iPhone" app which means you cannot locate it anymore via find my iPhone!

    To do this (IO6 - no idea about IO7) go under Settings -> General
    Turn on Restrictions, add passcode and then disable "deleting apps" option.

    Yes, they may get past your passcode, but they cannot delete anything which means you still stand a chance of getting the phone back.

    You also have other security options.
    After 10 failed passcode entries - delete the contents of the phone. If you have sensitive data on your phone you also may want to set this up, although this will mean Find my iPhone app will also be deleted so you will not get the phone back, however no one will get access to any of your data either.

    You also have options on the passcode, simple which is 4 digits, or you can have an advanced passcode, with numbers and letters.

    • Tim B
      November 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      This quite simply untrue. What has confused you is the fact that there is indeed a "Find my iPhone" companion app, which you can download from the App Store to help track your other Apple devices (laptops, tablets and so on).

      This has nothing to do with the Find my iPhone service which is installed as part of the core software. Deleting the Find my iPhone app has no bearing on the ability to track and remotely wipe your phone, and the only way you can disable it is to turn off the Find my iPhone service under Settings > iCloud, which requires you input the linked Apple ID password.

      You can read more about Activation Lock and how it works here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/buying-or-selling-a-used-iphone-running-ios-7-read-this-first/

  32. musa
    November 13, 2013 at 1:02 am

    What about Samsung and Nokia phones??

    • logan
      February 19, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      This is an iPhone thread. Take that one somewhere else.

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