When you lose a phone to theft, you either try to recover it, block it totally, or just forget it and get a new phone. People who decide to just forget it and get a new phone often do that because of the perceived effort and stress that may be involved in the recovery process – the situation often seems hopeless especially when the phone is out of range and inaccessible.
The truth though is that, tracking and recovering a lost android phone is possible (and relatively easy if you just take a few simple measures in advance – see below). There is no harm in trying to get back what’s yours, especially when it is an expensive device that has sensitive information on it.
This article discusses how to use Google’s “Find My Device” and IMEI tracking to locate a lost or stolen android phone. Before we start, note that locating your device requires that you’re smart and swift about it. Even if you follow the steps stated in this article, once a phone is lost, recovering it depends on several factors (locating the phone is just one of these factors). But if the thief isn’t particularly smart, you may be lucky.
Tracking With Google Find My Device
Thanks to technology, all android phones are now equipped with the find my device API in their security settings. This method of tracking your phone is only valid when your Google account has not yet been removed from your phone by the thief. More reason why you need to be fast about this.
When you get your new android phone, log in with your Google account, then go to phone settings and press Security & location. Next, go to find my device and turn it on if it wasn’t turned on already.
This only needs to be done once, but it must be done at some point BEFORE your phone gets lost or stolen. Consider it a precautionary measure.
When you discover that your phone has been stolen, launch Google Chrome immediately on another device (maybe your laptop or tablet) and go to Google Find My Device.
On the find my device page, log in with your Google account. Once logged in, you will see a list of devices you’ve registered with that Google account.
Select the device you’re looking for and click the device information icon on the right side of the screen.
Once you do that, the IMEI number of your device will be displayed. Copy this IMEI number immediately and save it somewhere.
The essence of doing this is so that if your Google account gets deleted on the device, you would at least still have the IMEI number of your device (if you hadn’t already saved it previously). The IMEI of your device might come in handy for further tracking.
While still on the find my device page, you can ring your phone by clicking on Play Sound (this is particularly useful if your phone is not stolen but just “lost” within your home and you are trying to figure out where you kept it). Your device will keep ringing for five minutes.
Even if the SIM card has changed, as long as the phone is online and not switched off, it will ring.
When your phone is actually stolen (as opposed to lost), just ringing it may not be a good idea. You may even end up alerting the thief that you’re onto them. In any case, use these options wisely.
Another thing you could do in the case of a lost phone is, you can type a message to the one who has your phone with a phone number to call. To do this, click the Secure Device option. This option will lock your phone immediately, instructing anyone who has it to return the device to the owner to unlock it.
If the options above are not enough, you can also use find my device to get the physical location of your device on Google maps. This is probably one of the most powerful features of find my device. It can show you the exact address of the thief or their dynamic location if they are in motion.
If you have sensitive information on your device and you want to erase its data, just click the Erase Device option. Once that is done, you will no longer be able to locate your phone using find my device. However, all of its data as well as your personal information will be erased remotely.
Using IMEI Trackers
IMEI is an identification number that is unique to each phone. Even when the SIM card is changed, the phone’s IMEI remains the same. It is advisable to always get this number down somewhere once you buy your phone. The IMEI of your phone can be accessed by dialing *#06#
The use of IMEI trackers is more like a preventive measure. You will need to register your phone with a third-party system before the theft.
This IMEI Tracker from the Google play store is one such third-party service. Once your phone is registered with the IMEI tracker, it gives you an option of entering two trusted phone numbers – such that for every SIM card swap, the trusted phone numbers get notified of the details of the new SIM via SMS.
Download the IMEI Tracker from Google play and sign in with your Google account. Tap Anti-theft Security and enter the two trusted numbers in the form provided. Ensure that you tap the enable option. You’re now set up for IMEI tracking.
Can You Block A Phone?
Blocking your stolen phone is difficult. Service providers can only block your SIM card and not your phone. The best you can usually do is to erase your files remotely as stated earlier using find my device.