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Help! I Lost My Phone! Now What?


In a previous article entitled "Fixing the Wireless Phone Mess," I referenced a common myth about lost phones and their ability to be tracked - or inability thereof, as the case may be. In a recent web article posted on CNN, police from Pennsylvania located a Sprint subscriber to let them know their ten year old child had approval to be airlifted for a much needed heart transplant. But what do you do if the phone isn't on? What if the phone is damaged because you dropped it and it can't be fixed? In general, how will you get by if someone steals your phone?

There are several nasty side effects to a lost or stolen phone. For the sake of simplicity, we'll deal with theft and loss primarily, but will also address damaged phones in a later portion of the article.

Why Is This Important?

The first problem that can occur is that your contact list is immediately accessible to whomever finds the phone. This can lead to harassment issues, which I have had to deal with when I was in customer service. The thief can call your contacts and really cause trouble - or they can call you and begin harassing you, due to the fact that most phones display the number associated with them. This is an especially difficult issue for those in government employ or who engage in undercover work, because of the confidentiality of their work and associates.

Another major problem that can occur is account access. Some people can get their hands on a phone, register the phone online for account access, and begin really messing things up for the original owner. Or they can use the number and call customer service and literally destroy the account by changing services, addresses, adding phones, and more. All it takes is a customer service rep who doesn't have any notion of account protection.

Some phones can even store documents and photos. Those can be privileged material sometimes, and could be a serious issue as well.

Finally, voicemail can be accessed. I know that with some Cingular phones, the phone remembers the voicemail password and auto-enters it when you call the voicemail. Charming, eh? You don't see what happens on screen, you just dial the voicemail, and after a little pause it says "You have..." Not very secure, is it?

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