How to Deter Smartphone Thefts and Protect Your Data

Please see Protecting Your Data on Your Mobile Device, updated January 2018.

To help deter smartphone theft and protect your personal information, CTIA and participating companies created the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment." This commitment gives consumers – at no cost – additional protections in case their smartphones are lost or stolen. 

The wireless industry continues to work to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft deterrence tools. Consumers play a critical role, and using PINs, passwords and other features can help protect their mobile devices and personal information. There are also a number of apps that can locate, lock and/or erase your wireless device if it gets lost or stolen. Here are the lists for Android and iOS (Apple)

Remember, your personal safety, not your smartphone, should always be your number one priority.

BEFORE your smartphone is lost or stolen:

  1. Be Aware. Know your surroundings and be aware of how you use your smartphone. Like your purse or wallet, don’t call attention to your smartphone and create opportunities for thieves to steal it – like leaving it on a restaurant table or allowing strangers to "borrow" it for directions.
  2. Lock It. As soon as you get a new smartphone, set a strong password to protect your device and change it on a regular basis. You can find step-by-step instructions for how to set the password for your smartphone here.
  3. Add Apps. Apps can now remotely track, lock and/or erase personal information on your smartphone if your device is stolen or lost. In addition, some apps can remotely trigger an alarm so others know that someone nearby is using a stolen smartphone – or can take a photo of the thief so you can send it to police. By adding these apps now, you can better protect your personal information on your smartphone.
  4. Save It (Again). If you have photos, emails, contacts, videos or any other important information you wouldn’t want to lose if your smartphone is ever stolen or misplaced, by sure to back up that content periodically on a computer, USB drive or cloud service.
  5. Insure It. You may want to insure your device through your wireless company or a third party insurance provider so your replacement device is covered if stolen or lost.

AFTER your smartphone is lost or stolen:

  1. Report It. If your smartphone is stolen, immediately notify your wireless provider to avoid incurring any unauthorized charges. You can also report your smartphone stolen to your local police department and be sure to let them know what apps you have installed that may help locate the thief. If your device is lost, tell your provider to put a "hold" on your account so that if it ends up being stolen, you can avoid unauthorized charges.
  2. Locate It. Your safety should always be your number one priority so never attempt to recover your smartphone on your own. But if you've installed apps that can remotely track your smartphone, activate the app from a safe location. In addition, remote lock your smartphone so the thief cannot access your personal information.
  3. Erase It. If you have sensitive information or believe your smartphone won't be returned, it's best to remote erase, or "wipe" it. Essentially, wiping your smartphone is similar to resetting it to its default, or factory installed settings. In addition, if you stored any passwords for services or apps you use on your smartphone, you should change them.
Last Updated November 2016