Has your iPhone been lost or stolen? Losing your iPhone is a pain. More than just an inconvenience, it can end up being a security risk. After all, many of us store important information on our phones. Fortunately, the Find My iPhone feature on iOS lets you easily track down a lost device or remotely lock or wipe it. So that, it can’t easily be accessed. Following below steps can help you find or recover your iPhone, or, at the very least, minimize the potential damage a stolen phone can result in.
What you do right away when your iPhone is stolen is very important. It could make the difference in protecting your data or getting your phone back. There’s no guarantee that these tips will protect you in every case or help you recover or find your iPhone, but they increase your chances.
What to Do to Find Your Stolen or Lost iPhone?
1. Lock iPhone and Possibly Delete Data
The first thing you need to do is protect your personal information. If you have a passcode set on your iPhone, you’re pretty safe. But if you don’t, or want extra security, use Find My iPhone to lock your phone and add a passcode. That will at least prevent the thief from using your phone.
If you can’t get the iPhone back or it has extremely sensitive information on it, you may want to delete the phone’s data. You can do this over the web using iCloud. Deleting data may not prevent the thief from using your iPhone, but at least they won’t have access to your personal data after that.
If your iPhone was issued to you by your employer, your IT department may be able to remotely delete the data, too. Contact them to learn about your options.
2. Ping It with Your Apple Watch
This step obviously doesn’t apply to you if you don’t own an Apple Watch, but if you do, it’s perhaps the easiest way to track down your missing iPhone when it’s just hiding in the same room or building. Your iPhone needs to be on the same Wi-Fi network or connected to your Apple Watch via Bluetooth for this to work, so that gives you an idea of the range possible.
On the Apple Watch, swipe up the Control Center, then tap the ping button to make your iPhone start beeping an SOS signal to you. If the speakers aren’t working on your iPhone or you can’t hear anything, long-press the same icon for about three seconds, and your iPhone’s LED flash will flash a few times with beeps as well.
3. Play a Sound on It via Find My iPhone
If you know or think it’s nearby your location, you may be able to hear it and find it. You can call your iPhone from another phone if your ringtone is loud enough, but if you’re on vibrate or silent, your only option is to use the “Play Sound” feature in Find My iPhone app.
Open the Find My iPhone app, select your device, then choose on “Play Sound.” A loud alarm will begin ringing from your iPhone (no matter what loudness your device is on) and a pop -up alert will turn on the device’s screen. If you’re in a relatively quiet area, this could help you find your iPhone.
4. File a Police Report
If you can’t recover the phone right away, file a report with the police in the place where the phone was stolen. This may or may not lead to the recovery of your iPhone (in fact, the police may tell you there’s very little they can do either because of the value of the phone or the number of thefts), but having documentation should help when dealing with a cell phone and insurance companies.
Even if the police tell you they can’t help at first, if you can get data about the location of your phone, having the report may be necessary for getting the police to help you recover it.
5. Don’t Try to Recover It Yourself; Get Help From the Police
If you’ve been able to locate your iPhone via a GPS tracking app like Find My iPhone, do not try to recover it yourself. Going to the house of the person who stole your phone is a definite recipe for trouble.
Instead, contact the local police department (or, if you’ve already filed a report, the one you reported the theft to) and let them know that you’ve got information about the location of your stolen phone. While the police may not always help, the more information you have, the more likely police are to recover the phone for you.
6. Use ‘Hey Siri’ to Try & Locate It
This may sound weird. But if you don’t have an Apple Watch, the next fastest way to locate an iPhone that you think is in the same location is to say “Hey Siri” loudly. If it’s close by, you may hear the loud beep indicating that Hey Siri is listening. It might even be followed by Siri speaking to let you know she’s waiting for a command.
7. Track Its Location via Find My iPhone
If no one has seen it and the Apple Watch or Hey Siri trick didn’t work for you, it’s time to access the tracking tool online. You should already have Find My iPhone set up with “Send Last Location” enabled and ready to go for just this scenario.
Either access the Find My iPhone app on another iOS device you own or that a friend can let you borrow, or log in to Find My iPhone in a desktop browser at icloud.com/#find. (Note that the mobile web app version does not work very well, so use it on a desktop if you’re not using the iOS app.)
In the Find My iPhone app, you’ll be able to see where your iPhone is or was located last on a map. If your iPhone fell from your pocket a few blocks away, knowing the relative location can help you recover it pretty quickly. If it’s in the same location as you, it’s time to play a sound on it. In the case that your iPhone is on the move, Find My iPhone will show a green dot, representing the last known location of the device.
8. Call or Text It from Another Phone
The next easiest thing you can do is call or text your iPhone from a landline (calls only, obviously) or someone else’s smartphone. A stranger doesn’t need your iPhone’s passcode or your biometrics to answer a phone call, so someone may hear it and pick up.
If a call doesn’t work, send a descriptive text message saying who you are, that you’ve lost your iPhone, and what to do if someone finds it. If your text messages appear on your lock screen, someone else might see them and give you your iPhone — with a little bit of luck. They could also text you back for more information as long as you don’t have “Reply with Message” disabled for the lock screen.
Worried about sensitive information appearing on the lock screen that others may see? The call or text message route may not be the way to go then.
9. Notify Your Phone Carrier
You haven’t got your iPhone back, so now you must do everything in your power to ensure no one else gets to use your device. Use your phone carrier’s online services or call them to notify them that your iPhone has been stolen. This usually isn’t necessary, but it helps with your possible insurance claim and it blacklists your iPhone so that no one else can connect it to another carrier should Activation Lock somehow become disabled.
10. File an Insurance Claim
Next, if you had insurance, call Apple (for AppleCare+) or the insurance company for your iPhone and file a claim. Depending on your insurance policy and your iPhone model, you may only have to pay a couple hundred dollars to get a refurbished iPhone. Best of all, most insurance companies send out replacement iPhones using free expedited shipping, meaning you can get it in a matter of days.
For AppleCare+ with Theft & Loss protection, the replacement prices are listed below. Remember, though, if you didn’t have Find My iPhone enabled you could end up paying full price.
- iPhone 7: $199
- 7 Plus: $229
- iPhone 8: $199
- 8 Plus: $229
- XR: $229
- XS: $269
- XS Max: $269
11. Change Your Apple ID Password & iPhone Passcode
Lastly, you might want to consider changing your Apple ID password, as well as your new iPhone’s passcode, because who knows what the thief might have accessed. You can change your Apple ID password in the Settings app of your new iPhone. Go to Settings –> Your Name –> Password & Security –> Change Password. Enter your device passcode, and then change your Apple ID password as instructed.
To change your iPhone’s passcode, go to “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode” in Settings, enter your passcode, tap on “Change Passcode,” enter your old passcode once again, and type in a new one. You have the option between a custom alphanumeric code, custom numeric code, and a six-digit or four-digit numeric code. Make sure it’s strong, whatever it is, so not a four-digit number.
Additional Things You’ll Want to Consider Doing
- Notify your friends and family members that you’ve lost your iPhone. So that they aren’t potentially fooled by a thief that has access to your iPhone.
- Change the passwords for your other internet accounts, including social media accounts, email accounts, and other applications. Change your master password for a password manager.
- If you purchase an iPhone through your insurance and end up recovering your lost or stolen iPhone, you must return one of them, or else you could face accusations of theft or fraud.