Hopefully you’ve never had your iOS device stolen.
But it does happen, and many of us worry about what we would do if our expensive, personalized Apple products that we use every day were stolen.
Speaking as someone who has had their iPhone stolen once and lost it at least once, it’s pretty stressful. The easiest way to avoid this stress is by keeping careful track of your things, but sometimes it’s simply not your fault!
If you have had your iOS device or Mac stolen, stay calm. There are simple steps you can follow to get your device back – or at least prevent your personal information from being compromised.
Step 1: Use Find My iPhone to activate Lost Mode
Find My iPhone is an Apple app that lets you track your iOS device – whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac – when it get lost or stolen. You can also remotely wipe your iPhone to insure your personal data does not fall into the wrong hands.
The first step you’ll want to take when your iOD device is stolen or lost is to log into Find My iPhone at iCloud.com and activate Lost Mode.
Lost mode has four primary functions:
Locking your device with a passcode.
Note that while this is a great feature, you should really, really, have a passcode on your device anyways. A passcode is the simplest way to protect your personal information stored on your device.
If you prefer to have it unlocked at home, you should set up a passcode when you travel.
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Remotely displaying a message on your device. It will show that the device is stolen and list your contact information.
This feature is really only useful if your iOS device is lost – not stolen. Obviously, if someone stole your iPhone, they’re not going to call you and let you know.
Prevent your device from displaying notifications, alerts, calls, or messages.
This feature protects your privacy.
Your Apple Pay cards listed on the device will be suspended.
No one will be able to use your Apple Pay cards while the device is in Lost Mode.
Activating Lost Mode should always be your first move as it protects your personal information. Your next step will be locating your device.
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Step 2: Use Find My iPhone to find your lost device
Apple has made the Find My iPhone app very user friendly and intuitive. Follow these steps to track down your lost device:
Log into Find My iPhone on iCloud.com or a different iOS device
Click on All Devices. If your device is online, it will show a green dot beside the device name.
Click on the device you wish to locate.
If your device is online and Find My iPhone/Find My Mac is turned on, it’s approximate location is shown on the screen.
If you’re trying to track down your lost device or figure out where your stolen iOS device is, this feature is very useful and accurate.
How to activate Find My iPhone/Find My Mac
This feature won’t be any use to you if you haven’t activated it. If you get a new iPod, iPhone, Mac, etc. activating Find My iPhone/Mac should be one of the first things you do. If you’ve had one for a while and haven’t turned this on, now is your chance!
Activating Find My iPhone on an iOS device
Enter Settings from your Home screen.
From the list of options, tap iCloud
Scroll to the bottom, tap Find My iPhone
Turn on Find My iPhone and Send Last Location
These steps work on any iOS device – iPhone, iPad, or iPod.
How to activate Find My Mac
From the Apple menu in the top left hand corner of your screen select System Preferences.
From the options, select iCloud
Scroll to the bottom of the list of options and enable Find My Mac
You will now be able to find your Mac if it ever gets lost or stolen.
Find My iPhone tips
As you can see, using Find My iPhone/Mac is very easy to use and extremely useful. In order to make full use of the service, there are a few things you should know.
Find My iPhone only works when your device is on and charged. When you are travelling, make sure to keep everything as near to fully charged as possible. This insures you have the most chance to locate your device.
Even if your device is off or offline you can lock it, put it in Lost Mode, or remotely erase it, which we’ll get into later.
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Step 3: Know when to give up – and then lock up
If you’re iOS device comes online and you’ve tracked it to a location you are not comfortable going, don’t risk your safety for it. You can remotely ‘Erase’ your iOS device from Find My iPhone.
You can erase your iOS device or Mac from anywhere, and it will remotely erase whenever it comes online. This will destroy all information stored on the device including banking and Apple Pay information.
Note: Erasing your device means you will no longer be able to track it. Make sure the search is truly a lost cause before doing this.
Step 4: Contact your wireless carrier
If you’re iPhone or cellular iPad is stolen or lost, you need to contact your wireless service provider.
Your provider can remotely suspend service to the SIM card in your device, keeping the thief from running up huge data or long distance charges.
Step 5: Contact law enforcement
Law enforcement may not be able to help your get your device back. But you should report your stolen or missing device anyways, as it will then be in their system.
They will likely ask for you device’s serial number; if you don’t have this written down somewhere, you can check the following places:
The original packaging for your product
The ‘Devices’ tab in your iTunes preferences
The original product receipt for your device
Law enforcement usually reports lost and stolen devices to Apple, meaning you have a chance of eventually getting your device back.
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Step 6: Move on – your personal information is safe
If your device is genuinely lost to the world and you have followed the above steps, there’s not a whole lot else you can do.
If you’ve locked your device or erased it, your device is no longer connected to your iCloud account or any other personal account. Essentially, the thief has stolen a nice looking, expensive, aluminum brick.
Of all things to have stolen, your iOS device is one of the better things to lose. You have a good chance of finding it and if not – you can lock it up!
This article originally appeared in our sister subscription newsletter website iExpert News.