What To Do If You Lose Your Smartphone

It happens to thousands of us each day: we lose our smartphones! Now what?

Make it easy for people to reunite you with your beloved tech tool by planning ahead and leaping into action immediately. Here are five things you can do to get your smartphone back, plus three tips on what to do if you find someone else’s phone:

1. Label it. Since you always lock your phone by setting your passcode (right?), put your contact information on your Lock screen wallpaper. An easy way to do this is to take a screenshot of your contact info and choose that image as your wallpaper. Someone may find your phone before you even know it’s missing.

2. Track it. These apps let you do things like remotely lock your phone, locate it via GPS, display a message on the screen or play a sound at full volume (in case you lost your phone in your other pants or purse). Some apps also let you remotely wipe your personal data and include other security features, like alerting you if someone tries to change the SIM card.

If you’re iPhone owners, try Find my iPhone (free) or GadgetTrak ($3.99). Droid user? Try Where’s My Droid (free or $1 donation), Android Lost (free), Lookout Security and Anti-Virus (free), WaveSecure Mobile Security ($29.99 a year, lots of features and awards). Windows Phone users go to Find A Lost Phone (free) and BlackBerry users can try BlackBerry Protect (free) or Kaspersky Mobile Security ($29.95 a year)

iHound software supports Apple ($3.99 for three months) and Droid ($3.99 for a year) and also has nifty anti-theft stickers available for labeling.

No tracking app on your phone? All is not lost:

3. Call it. And hope someone nice picks up. And that you left the ringer on.

4. Text it. Make sure your settings allow text preview when locked.

5. Report it. Go to the local police station lost and found. Could be there, but don’t hold your breath.

And what should you do if you find a phone?

1. Answer it if it rings.

2. If it’s not locked, call someone from the owner’s contact list or send him/her an email. Start by looking for “In Case of Emergency” or “ICE” in the contact list (hint: add this yourself right now) or look at phone’s recent calls or favorites list. You can also open a recent email to find the “to” address. But beware: snooping is instant bad karma!

3. If it’s locked, give it to management at the location you found it, or to the police. It’s up to the phone’s owner to take it from there.