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Prevent Cell Phone and ID Theft

Don’t let thieves steal your phone and the sensitive info it contains.


Got a cell or smart phone? You’d better watch out.

One of America’s fastest-growing crimes is cell phone theft.

Last year, cell phone robberies soared nearly 52 percent in St. Paul, and in Denver, “Apple picking” – the theft of iPhones – jumped 22 percent.

High resale value, access to valuable personal information and unauthorized expensive calls are big incentives for thieves, who may even resort to violence to take your phone.

While manufacturers pledged to equip smartphones with “kill switches” to remotely disable stolen phones, this won’t become standard until 2015. In the meantime, follow these steps to protect yourself, your property and your identity.

Take Precautions

  • Use your phone discreetly in public, and avoid displaying it in unsafe areas.
  • Never leave your device unattended in public places or in your car.
  • Record your device’s make, model, serial number and unique identification number (the Mobile Equipment Identifier or International Mobile Equipment Identifier Number), which police will need if it’s stolen.

Protect Data on Your Smartphone

  • Use your smartphone’s security lock code.
  • Install anti-theft apps that can help locate your smartphone, remotely lock it, remove sensitive data or sound a loud alarm.
  • Display an email address or alternative phone number on your lock screen, so you can be easily contacted if your smartphone is found. Do not display your address or other sensitive information.
  • Back up data and images regularly.

What to Do If Your Cell Phone Is Stolen

  • Not sure if your device was stolen or is just missing? Call it or use its GPS locator to find it, and remotely lock it to be on the safe side.
  • If you have installed an anti-theft app, use it to remotely lock the phone, remove sensitive data or trigger the alarm.
  • Report the missing phone to your service provider, and supply the identification number, which could be used to disable your device or block access to the information on it. Get written confirmation from your carrier that you’ve reported the device as missing and that it was disabled.
  • Alert the police that your phone was stolen, and provide the make, model and identification number. Your carrier may require proof it was stolen, and a police report would meet this requirement.

You may also want to consider Identity Theft Protection products and services from American Family Insurance.

Remember, be proactive, be safe and avoid the risks of cell phone theft!

Check out these related resources:

ID Theft Risk Calculator

What to Do If You’re the Victim of ID Theft