Lost your mobile phone? Don't panic, follow our helpful advice

From tracking your phone and erasing its memory to getting in touch with BT Mobile, here’s our essential advice on what to do if your smartphone is lost or stolen.

We carry so much personal information on our smartphones, no-one wants to think about it being lost or stolen, whether it happens at home or if it happens in a foreign country when you are supposed to be relaxing on holiday.

However careful you are, accidents do happen and smartphones are tempting to thieves. But if you do lose your phone, don’t panic. We’ve got advice on what to do if your phone does get lost or stolen and some helpful tips you can follow before you set off to protect yourself.

[Read more: Goodbye bill shock! How using your phone in the EU is much cheaper]

Remember it’s really important to back up your phone. In the unfortunate event something happens and you lose you’ll phone, your personal information – such as photos – will be safe.  Read our section ‘Three steps to protect your phone' below to find out more.

Step 1: Can you locate your phone?

Modern smartphones have built-in features to help you find a lost phone. As long as location services are on, you typically log into your account via a web browser and you’ll be able to view its location. 

Apple: iPhone users have an app called Find My Phone and can sign in at iCloud.com to view the location - find out more here.

Android: Go to Settings - Security & Location and make sure Find My Device is on. 

Lose your phone and go to www.google.co.uk/android/devicemanager and you’ll see your phone’s location on a map. You can then Ring, Lock or Erase the phone.

Android lost phone location

BT Virus Protect: All BT broadband customers can use the BT Virus Protect app to keep their Android phone and tablet* safe from viruses, as part of your free BT Extras.

To locate a lost phone use BT Virus Protect to activate an alarm. It also retains the last location before the battery runs out. You can lock or wipe personal information from lost phone and display a message on screen in case someone finds it.

If you think your phone has been stolen, you can remotely take a snapshot photo of the person holding your lost device and receive an email with the photo along with the device location. Download BT Virus Protect

[Read more: How to find your Android smartphone if it’s lost]

Remember if you track your phone to someone’s house, don’t attempt to confront them, you could put yourself in danger. Instead, contact the police.

Step 2: Cancel your SIM

Get in touch with BT Mobile as soon as possible and they will bar your SIM. This means that no-one will be able to use your number to make calls, texts or data, using your number, potentially running up a huge bill.

BT Mobile will also blacklist your handset, putting it on a register of lost or stolen handsets, so in the event it’s sold no-one else will be able to use it.

To contact BT Mobile call 0800 783 1401 from the UK  or +44 179 359 6931 from abroad.

If you have any other questions in case your phone gets stolen visit BT Mobile’s help pages.

You can also ask for your phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number which you might need for the police or insurance.

You’ll also be able to order a replacement SIM from bt.com/replacesim.

BT  Mobile Sim cards

Step 3: Contact the police

Once you establish your phone is definitely lost or stolen, call the police.

For insurance purposes you’ll need to ask for a crime reference number.

Step 4: Report it to your insurance company

The next step is to let your insurance company know the phone is missing.

Whether you have travel or home insurance or are covered by a dedicated gadget insurer (see below), the provider will have an emergency number you can all.

They’ll ask for details about the phone, when you had it last and for the crime reference number.

Phone with 'beck up' on

Three steps to protect your phone

1: Back up your handset

Lose your phone and you aren’t just out of pocket, but you’ve lost photos, apps and contacts, Apple and Google let you back up your device, if it’s replaced you can log in and get your information back.

Apple: Discover how to back up your iPhone

Android: Go to Settings System - Backup and make sure the slider next to Back up to Google Drive is turned on. Android menu options can vary between device and manufacturer, so search for Backup.

Read more in our feature: Don’t lose your stuff: How to back up your Android smartphone and tablet.

BT Cloud: BT Cloud is exclusively available for free to all our BT Broadband and BT Infinity customers and can be used for backing up photos, videos and documents from your smartphone. Depending on your broadband package, you'll get 10GB, 200GB or 1000GB free. Find out more about BT Cloud.

2: Get insurance

Lose your phone and you’re out of pocket and you’ve got to get a replacement, avoid the headache by investing in phone insurance.

  • Home insurance: Check your existing policy to find out if you are covered away from home, or you can add your phone.
  • Travel insurance: The majority of policies will cover you for valuables, but typically there’s a single-item limit, which may be less than the value of your phone. Check before you go.
  • Gadget insurance: Companies like Insurance2go and Protect Your Bubble offer dedicated gadget insurance for a monthly fee. You can often pay a bit more and get cover for loss.

Some insurance policies don’t cover you straight away and apply a waiting period, so make sure you read the small print.

3: Register at Immobilise

Immobilise is a property register that helps police find the owner of stolen property.

Register your device at www.immobilse.com and you’ve got more chance of getting your phone back if you lose it or it gets stolen.

*Android version 4.0 or higher; requires minimum 52 MB storage space and users need to give access permissions to get the full features *

More from BT