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FCC Consumer Facts: Stolen and Lost Wireless Devices

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Released: April 10, 2012


The theft of wireless devices, particularly smartphones, is sharply on the rise across the country,
according to many published reports. The high resale value of these high-tech phones has made
them a prime target for robbers and the personal information contained on the device that could be
used by identity thieves. Below are several steps that you can take to better protect yourself, your
device, and the data it contains, along with instructions on what to do if your device is lost or stolen.

How To Safeguard Yourself Against Wireless

How To Protect The Data on Your Phone

Device Theft

Establish a password to restrict access.
Consider your surroundings and use your
Should your device be stolen or lost, this will
device discreetly at locations in which you
help protect you from both unwanted usage
feel unsafe.
charges and from theft and misuse of your
personal data.
Never leave your device unattended in a
public place. Don’t leave it visible in an
Install and maintain anti-theft software.
unattended car; lock it up in the glove
Apps are available that will:
compartment or trunk.
o Locate the device from any computer;
o Lock the device to restrict access;
Write down the device’s make, model
o Wipe sensitive data from the device,
number, serial number and unique device
including contacts, text messages, photos,
identification number (either the International
emails, browser histories and user
Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI) or the
accounts such as Facebook and Twitter;
Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) number).
o Make the device emit a loud sound
The police may need this informat ion if the
(“scream”) to help the police locate it.
device is stolen or lost.
· Review your warranty or service agreement
Make your lock screen display contact
to find out what will happen if your phone is
information, such as an e-mail address or
stolen or lost. If the policy is not satisfactory,
alternative phone number, so that the phone
you may wish to consider buying device
may be returned to you if found. Avoid
including sensitive information, such as your
home address.
Be careful about what information you store.
Social networking and other apps may allow
unwanted access to your personal information.

Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

445 12th St., SW
Washington, DC 20554
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
Fax: 1-866-418-0232


What To Do If Your Wireless Device Is Stolen

What To Do If Your Wireless Device Is Stolen

· If you are not certain whether your device has
been stolen or if you have simply misplaced it,
If you are unable to lock your stolen or lost
attempt to locate the device by calling it or by
device, change all of your passwords for e-
using the anti-theft software’s GPS locator.
mail, banking and social networking
Even if you may have only lost the device, you
accounts that you have accessed using your
should remotely lock it to be safe.
If you have installed anti-theft software on your
device, use it to lock the phone, wipe sensitive
information, and/or activate the alarm.

For More Information

Immediately report the theft or loss to your
carrier. You will be responsible for any
For information about other
charges incurred prior to when you report the
telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s
stolen or lost device. If you provide your
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
carrier with the IMEI or MEID number, your
website at
carrier may be able to disable your device and
governmental-affairs-bureau, or contact
block access to the information it carries.
the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-
Request written confirmation from your carrier
888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice 1-
that you reported the device as missing and
888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY;
that the device was disabled.
faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
If the device was stolen, also immediately
Federal Communications Commission
report the theft to the police, including the
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
make and model, serial and IMEI or MEID
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
number. Some carriers require proof that the
445 12th Street, SW
device was stolen, and a police report would
Washington, DC 20554.
provide that documentation.

For this or any other consumer publication in an accessible format (electronic ASCII text, Braille, large print
or audio), please write or call us at the address or phone number below, or send an e-mail to


To receive information on this and other FCC consumer topics through the Commission's electronic
subscriber service, click on
This document is for consumer education purposes only and is not intended to affect any proceeding or
cases involving this subject matter or related issues.
Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

445 12th St., SW
Washington, DC 20554
1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
Fax: 1-866-418-0232


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