If you are heading away on holiday soon, you’ll probably be taking your smartphone. As well as using it to make phone calls, for many it also acts as a camera, e-reader, navigation and gaming device.
Smartphones are enticing to thieves – particularly those belonging to holidaymakers – people who might be visiting a new, unfamiliar place and be off-guard.
To make sure you don’t have to pay an unscheduled visit to a police station, we’ve pulled together seven steps to ensure you never lose your phone again.
Step 1: Track your phone
If you do lose your phone, you’ll want to track it down sharpish. Thankfully there’s an app for that, no matter which operating system you use.
On iOS, the Find My iPhone app does exactly what it says on the tin. Log onto a computer and as long the phone has a cellular or wi-fi connection, its location will be displayed on a map so you can go and pick it up. You can remotely lock your iPhone, make it show a message, erase everything on it, or make it play a sound if you think it’s just down the back of the sofa.
Lookout Mobile Security (above) does the same thing on Android phones, but even if your phone goes missing before you’ve had a chance to install a tracker, all is not lost – the Plan B app can be installed after you’ve lost your phone and uses GPS to send your phone’s location to your email address.
For Windows Phone handsets, head to windowsphone.com, click My Phone, and select Find My Phone from the drop-down menu.
Step 2: Take preventive measures
There are various devices – typically tags or small devices - that can stop you losing your phone, or the bag it’s in in the first place.
Connect the Bluenio nioTag (£35) to your bag, and if someone takes it and it goes out of range, it’ll sound an alarm on your phone to alert you.
The Lupo Solo (£44) is another example. They all differ slightly in functionality and features, so it’s worth doing your research.
Step 3: Protect it with a password
Perhaps the most basic step to stop anyone using your stolen phone is to set a password, so if someone does get their hands on your mobile, they can’t access all your data.
Pick something that’s tricky to guess – not your date of birth or pet’s name – and use a mix of numbers and letters to make it more secure. It sounds obvious, but SplashData’s Worst Passwords list for 2014 revealed that many people still use the password 123456.
For more advice check out our guide: How safe is your password?
Step 4: Use Touch ID
The fingerprint sensor on the Apple iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will make your phone more secure without you having to enter your PIN code. Just touch your thumb on the home button, and it’ll unlock your mobile in less than a second. Not only is it quicker than entering your PIN, it’ll also thwart thieves.
Samsung has a similar feature on its Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Plus.
Step 5: Buy a cheap second phone
If you only want it to use your phone in case of emergencies, why not buy a second, no-frills handset and take that instead?
Nokia 108 costs £20 and has a battery that lasts for 31 days on standby and you won’t be too distraught if you lose it.
Step 6: Keep a note of your phone’s IMEI number
This number is unique to your phone, and if it’s stolen, the police can use it to disable your mobile even if the SIM card has been replaced. It can also help identify your mobile when retrieving it. There are a few ways to find out your phone’s IMEI. Dial *#06# and it’ll be displayed on-screen. If your phone has a removable battery, the IMEI is also printed on that.
Step 7: Attach your phone to your person
This might not be the most elegant solution, but it works. MyBunjee (starting at £6.95) is a lanyard for your mobile, so you’ll always have it around your neck or attached to your jacket, belt loop or handbag.
You might not notice your phone being lifted out of your pocket, but you’ll definitely notice if someone tries to swipe it from around your neck and It’ll also stop you dropping your mobile.
If all else fails, just leave your phone at home - simple, but effective.