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What to do if your phone is stolen abroad

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1 in 5 have had their device stolen on holiday

Holidaymakers have been told what to do if their phone has been stolen after new data reveals nearly a quarter of people have had their mobiles nicked abroad.

Phone experts at SellCell have named the steps tourists need to take as soon as their phone has been stolen if they want to maximise their chances of getting it back and protect their data.

Improved security measures on our devices, tracking features, and an increased general awareness over protecting our phones which hold all our data has been reducing phone crime.

Whilst holidaying overseas, Brits often fall victim to opportunistic thieves and pickpockets looking out for phones to steal.

According to a new survey, on any holiday, 20.2% of people had their phones stolen whilst on holiday, whilst 23% had lost their device abroad.

The data also shows that, despite high numbers of thefts and losses, 77% of people do not insure their devices. There were also more men compared to women who were victims of phone crime.

Losing a mobile phone abroad will no doubt ruin a trip, and make the remainder of the time abroad full of paperwork, police enquiries and stress.

One of the first things victims of mobile phone theft should do is use a friend’s device to change all passwords, freeze any connected bank cards, and enable the ‘lost mode’ feature.

Keep the location turned on in case of any chance of tracking the phone down, but also wipe clean the device to ensure no personal data is available to thieves.

Inform the network providers of a stolen phone so no texts, calls or mobile data usage can be made – as well as contacting travel insurance to tell them of the incident.

Filing a report with the local police is necessary to dispute any claims with the bank, and for insurance purposes.

Although it is unlikely the phone will be returned, contacting the police will allow victims to have official proof of their stolen phone.

Sarah McConomy, COO of SellCell said: “Unfortunately, it is easy for opportunistic thieves and pickpockets to steal a phone and quickly walk away with it – and the chances of getting it found and returned is very unlikely, especially whilst abroad in unfamiliar environments and language barriers.

“If you do fall victim to mobile phone theft it is crucial to act as fast as possible to secure all of your personal data and private information. Use a friend’s phone or another device to log in to your cloud accounts and freeze bank cards, change passwords, and erase all data.

“Filing a police report is essential for insurance purposes and to have proof and official documentation of the event.

“Turning on the lost mode feature will display contact information on the homescreen in the slim chance of the phone landing in safe hands. Keeping the location turned on will also make it easier to find the device if there is still a chance of tracking it down.

“Likely, getting your phone stolen is going to ruin your holiday. Not only is it a nuisance to get everything erased and reported to the police, a lot of important documentation is stored on our phones that is necessary for holidays.

“Things like boarding passes for the plane home, digital hotel room keys, contact information for holiday villas, travel insurance documents and important emails regarding your trip, are often all kept on your phone and not backed up.

“If your phone is stolen it’s hard not to get upset and stressed by the events – but it’s crucial to act fast and take the necessary steps to protect your personal information as well as informing the right people.”

Here are SellCell’s tips on what to do when your phone is stolen abroad:

  1. Cancel everything important
    Many of us have Apple or Google pay connected to our bank cards, so one of the first things you should do is cancel or freeze credit/debit cards. If you can log in to social media and any apps which have saved credit card information from another device, change all of the passwords to protect your money, and private information.
  2. Keep the location turned on
    When accessing your phone details from another device (such as logging in to iCloud accounts), do not turn off the ‘find my phone’ features. There may still be a chance the device can be found this way if the thief hasn’t turned the phone off or has discarded it somewhere. Before going away it’s a good idea to keep the GPS location turned on to make it easier to track down the device in the event of it getting stolen.
  3. Mark the phone as lost
    Smartphones have a feature to allow the user to mark the phone as lost. This ‘lost mode’ feature will then lock the device and can display contact information on the homescreen in the chances of getting it returned to the owner.
  4. Wipe the phone
    It’s crucial to wipe all data from the phone, so no one can access any personal information and private data. Although this means that nothing that hasn’t been backed up will be recovered, it’s best to erase everything so none of your data can be accessed or hacked. Log on to the account from another device and select the ‘erase phone’ option to wipe everything.
  5. File a police report
    Notify the local police as soon as possible that it is suspected your phone has been stolen. Filing an official report in the country you’re holidaying in will be needed for proof when claiming for insurance and when disputing any charges that were made with your stolen phone to the bank. Although it is unlikely the device will be found and returned, it is smart to file a police report to have documentation as proof.
  6. Tell the network provider
    Reporting a device as stolen to your network provider means they are able to disable the account. This way, no calls or texts can be made or received to the phone, as well as any mobile data usage. Some contacts and providers may have instances where a temporary replacement phone can be provided.
  7. Inform travel insurance
    Inform your travel insurance that a phone has been stolen whilst on holiday. As soon as you have documentation from the police report it is a good idea to present this to the insurance company as proof. Some insurance companies will cover mobile phone theft, so it’s especially worth checking what your excess is and if you have taken out specific device insurance.

To find out more about what to do when your phone is stolen abroad, please visit: www.sellcell.com/blog/what-to-do-if-your-device-is-stolen-whilst-abroad.


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