We carry so much personal information on our smartphones, no-one wants to think about it being lost or stolen, especially 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.

Before go away 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 ‘Before you go’ 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 Google Settings - Security. Make sure the sliders next to Remotely locate this device and Allow remote lock and erase are turned On.

Lose your phone and go to www.google.co.uk/android/devicemanager and you’ll see your phone’s location on a map.

Android lost phone location

You can then Ring, Lock or Erase the phone.

Read more in our feature: How to find your Android smartphone if it’s lost

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 +44 179 359 6931 from abroad or 0800 800 150 in the UK from a landline.

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

Before you go

1: Back up your phone

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:  Start by activating Android Backup Service which backs up data connected to your Google account. Go to Settings look for Backup & reset and tap Back up my data. Tap Automatic restore to back up app settings.

To back up your pictures, launch the Photos app. Tap the menu – Settings and flick the toggle next to Backup & sync.

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

BT Cloud: If you are a BT broadband customer you get 50 or 500GB storage with BT Cloud. 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.