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We all know it: that sick, sinking feeling when you reach for your phone and it isn’t where it’s meant to be. Hopefully, you’ve just put it in your other pocket, or your little brother has borrowed it to play a game. But what if the loss is potentially permanent? What should you do when you realise your phone is lost or stolen?
1. Try to find it
This one seems pretty obvious. Before panic sets in, try to track your phone down. Step 1, obviously, is to call it. Either you’ll hear it and find it under a couch cushion, or, perhaps, a Good Samaritan will answer and make a plan to get it back to you.
But it’s on silent! you cry. No problem. If you have an iPhone, go to a desktop/laptop/iPad (or someone else’s phone) and sign into iCloud. Click on ‘Find my iPhone’, sign in, and it will locate all your linked devices. Choose the lost one, and click ‘Play Sound’. Even if the phone is on silent, it’ll play a sound until you locate the phone and turn it off.
If you have an Android phone, go to Google, and search Find My Phone. It will locate it based on the last time it connected to the net, and give you the option to make it ring for five minutes while you look for it.
Remember that you’ll have to enable both these services when you set up your phone. It's important to do as it protects your valuable data from prying eyes and thieves.
If you haven’t set any of this up, and your phone is somewhere in your house on silent or with no internet connection, a fun hack is to walk around the house with a portable speaker playing loud music. When you get near your phone, the interference should make a crackling sound which gets louder the closer you get to the phone.
2. Nope, it’s truly gone
If you fear your phone has fallen into the wrong hands, the next step is to lock it. Again, you can do this via Find My iPhone - click on Lost Mode and your phone will be locked. It will send its location continuously so you can track it and display a custom message on the screen, such as ‘Please call me on <alternative number> to return this device.’ You can switch off Lost Mode from the device by entering your password, or from iCloud. If you know it’s gone forever, you can also choose to Erase iPhone to protect any sensitive data you have on the phone.
A similar process applies to Android phones via Google. Follow the simple steps in Find My Phone to lock or erase the phone remotely.
3. Blacklist it
To stop your device from being used on any SA mobile network, you need to blacklist your phone as soon as possible after losing it.
Dial Customer Care on 082 135, and follow the voice prompts to block a line.
- Your device’s serial/IMEI number (find this on your phone’s box or, if you have a contract, logging onto My Vodacom and following the menu to: My Account / Manage My Account / Device and SIM)
- ID number
- Physical address
- Alternative contact number
If you want to claim from insurance or report the loss to the police, you’ll need the ITC reference number that the call centre or social media support centre can provide. They’ll send it to you via email, or via SMS to the alternative cellphone number you provide.
If you find your phone, you can un-blacklist it the same way. You'll also need to get a SIM and do a SIM Swap. Read here about how to go about it.
If you’re smart, you’ll have taken out Device Insurance from Vodacom. If that’s the case, claiming is quick and easy. Just go to the Vodacom website, and click ‘Submit a claim’. There’s a list of everything you need to claim. It includes all the documentation you need to blacklist your phone, plus your ITC number and a SAPS case number and affidavit.
With Vodacom Device Insurance, your lost or stolen phone will be replaced within 48 hours to get you connected and smiling again. With prices starting from just R20 per month, depending on the device and type of cover you require, getting insurance is really a no-brainer. Go to the website for an online quote. (Note that only new devices can be insured.)