You’ve lost your cell phone – now what?

June 2, 2017
by Mark Ollig

Like most of us, I take my cellphone with me practically everywhere I go.

As I type this column, I see it peacefully lying on my office table, with the battery charger cord plugged in.

Every once and awhile, I’ll hear an audible “splash tone” emanating from the cellphone informing me of an email, text message, or response from a social media posting.

My cellphone also alerts me of any “breaking news” from the online media sources I signed up with.

My phone and I are in complete harmony. It’s always within arm’s reach.

“My Life with a Cellphone” a 350-page novel by yours truly, will soon be in a book store near you.

OK, maybe I’m overdoing it a bit, but a book like that might actually sell. I’ll keep the idea on the back burner.

Here’s a frightening thought: How would you react if you went to use your cellphone, and it wasn’t where you thought you’d left it?

Oh, no! You’ve lost your cellphone. Now what?

Seriously folks you wouldn’t be the only ones experiencing a panic attack, I would be, too.

Having a stranger going through the contents of an unlocked cellphone would be a personal violation of our privacy – it would be analogous to having a burglar going through the cabinets inside our home.

To avoid not knowing what to do if I ever did lose my cellphone, I decided to research what steps I could take to not only locate it, but to protect its contents from being unscrupulously used by anyone who would find it.

I played out the scenario of losing my cellphone; a Motorola Droid Turbo using the Android operating system.

From my home laptop computer, I typed in the address of my wireless carrier’s support web page: https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/how-to-find-phone.

This web page listed the lost phone recovery links for each major cellphone operating system, including Apple.

I clicked on the Android™ link, which provided clickable options for my cellphone:

Turning Android Device Manager on or off.

Find your phone using Android Device Manager by viewing it on a map.

Remotely ring, lock, or erase a lost phone.

In order to use the Android Find My Device, your lost cellphone or other smart device must be:

• Turned on.

• Signed in to a Google Account.

• Connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi.

• Visible on Google Play.

• Have the Location settings option turned on.

• Have the Find My Device setting turned on.

Clicking the Android Device Manager option, I was instructed to open: https://android.com/find and type in the Google Gmail account used with my cellphone.

This quickly took me to the Google Find My Device web page.

I then saw a Google city street map and a noticeable green, circular icon accurately indicating where my cellphone was located (at my office).

From my home laptop computer, I could:

Activate the ringer in my cellphone to ring for five minutes.

Lock access to the cellphone.

Type out a message or telephone number on the cellphone’s display screen for any Good Samaritan who finds the cellphone.

Erase all the content contained within the cellphone.

If I felt there was no chance of getting the cellphone back, I would choose to erase or delete all of the data content stored within the cellphone.

My cellphone’s photos, documents, and video are safe; I have this information mirrored and stored in my Google and Amazon cloud accounts.

For Apple iPhone users, you can locate your lost Apple devices using the Find My iPhone feature from Apple’s website: https://www.apple.com/icloud/find-my-iphone.

Find My iPhone will locate your: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch, or AirPods.

You’ll be able to see your Apple device on a map, make it ring, lock it, or erase its content.

The Find My iPhone feature on your Apple device will need to be turned on in order to use it.

So, I learned if one loses their cellphone or smart device, there are options available; there’s no need to have a panic attack.

Another option is contacting a friend over social media using your computer to help you.

A few weeks ago, my younger sister who lives in a neighboring city, had come home from shopping and could not find her cellphone.

This sibling text messaged me using the Facebook Messenger chat program from her home computer, asking for help in locating her cellphone.

Being up to the challenge, yours truly used his phone to call her cellphone; hoping she would hear the rings and thus locate it.

“Your phone should be ringing now,” I messaged back to her.

She carefully listened and then heard a faint ringing coming from the garage, where her car was parked.

A few moments later, I heard someone answering her cellphone.

“It’s me!” she quickly said with much relief.

Her cellphone had fallen in-between the front seat armrests inside her car, and was hidden from view.

My sister was very happy to have her cellphone back.

Having 40 years’ experience in the telephone industry does come in handy for me at times.

Yours truly also has nine years of social media experience on Twitter.

Follow me there at @bitsandbytes.

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