Around 8.7 million phones were lost or stolen in 2021- that’s over 1,000 every hour. Brean Horne, a personal finance expert at comparison site, NerdWallet, shares five precautions holidaymakers should take to protect themselves if their device gets lost or stolen abroad.
1. Change your passwords on emails and social accounts
Changing the passwords to your email and social media accounts is one of the first steps to take if your phone gets lost or stolen. This will help to prevent someone from accessing private information from your accounts that could be used to commit fraud.
Most apps such as TikTok, Instagram and Gmail save your username and password so that you don’t have to keep logging in each time you want to use them. While this can help save time, it means that anyone can get into your accounts if they have your phone.
Turning off this feature, or remembering to log out of your accounts when they are not in use, could make your phone more secure and reduce the risk of someone accessing your accounts if your phone is misplaced or stolen.
2. Cancel cards connected to your device
Apple, Google Pay and online banking are one of the most commonly used payment methods today, and can be authorised by simply entering your password, face recognition or fingerprint authentication.
Whilst face recognition and fingerprint authentication may be more difficult for someone else to access, passwords can be guessed more easily. Cancelling any cards connected to your device will help prevent unauthorised payments.
If you think you’ve just misplaced your phone, your card provider may offer the option to ‘freeze’ your card which temporarily blocks payments until you track it down.
3. Keep your location on
Keeping the GPS location on your phone turned on can help you track it down more easily if it gets lost or stolen.
Most phones offer a ‘find-my-phone’ security feature that allows you to trace your phone, call it and wipe information from it remotely using the GPS.
You’ll need to turn on this feature in your phone’s settings to be able to use it. And it’s worth keeping it switched on, especially when travelling abroad.
4. Log out of Cloud services
A place where the majority of your personal photos, contacts and data is stored is the Cloud (apps like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox) and you definitely don’t want someone accessing that.
You can follow the right steps using another device of your own or someone else’s to help you log out of the cloud and even change your password to prevent somebody trying to log back in.
5. Contact your mobile carrier
It’s vital to let your mobile phone provider know if your device is lost or stolen.
Whether you have a pay-monthly contract or a pay-as-you-go SIM, they can block your device to prevent unauthorised calls or data usage. They’ll also issue a new SIM card with your existing number.
You may also be able to get a replacement phone delivered to you, depending on both your carrier and how long you will be out of the country.