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Tips for Protecting Your Mobile Device from Theft

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Released: July 3, 2014


Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.

See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



July 3, 2014

Mike Snyder, 202-418-0997



Gwendolyn Crump, 202-727-9346




As you celebrate the Fourth of July, remember to be “smart” about your smartphone

Washington, D.C. – As the Independence Day holiday weekend approaches, D.C. Metropolitan Police

Chief Cathy Lanier and FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Acting Bureau Chief Kris Monteith

today issued a list of tips to raise consumer awareness about protecting mobile devices from theft.

Record device information. Mobile devices have unique numbers (IMEI or MEID numbers) that can

identify devices if they are stolen. You should record the IMEI or MEID number, serial number and

MAC/Wi-Fi address and store it in a safe place. This information is usually found under the “Settings”

menu on the “About” screen. Additionally, screenshot functions make it easy to capture this information

and send it to an email account. Before you go out:

Find the IMEI or MEID number on your mobile device

Send yourself a screenshot of it: iOS (Apple), Android, Blackberry, and Windows

Be aware of your surroundings. Many mobile device thefts are crimes of opportunity. Using your

device in public, particularly on public transit, or leaving it out in the open makes it easier for thieves to

grab the device and run.

Treat mobile device theft like credit card theft. Mobile devices frequently contain sensitive financial

and personal information.

Report all mobile device thefts immediately to your wireless carrier and local law enforcement.

Set a password/PIN and use the lock screen function. The password/PIN and lock screen functions on

devices make it more difficult for thieves to use your stolen device and access your personal data. These

functions should be set up as soon as you purchase a new device. (CTIA The Wireless Association has

instructions for setting up a password on Android, Blackberry, Apple and Windows devices.)


Consider using mobile security apps. Mobile security apps can be useful in locating and recovering

stolen devices. Common features include the ability to remotely track, lock or erase your personal data

on your mobile devices. Some apps also allow you to remotely trigger an alarm on the device or take a

photo of the thief.

CTIA provides a list of mobile security apps.

Regularly back up photos and data. Photos, videos, contacts, email and other data you would want to

keep if your device is stolen should backed up regularly on a computer, USB drive or cloud service.

Locate, lock and erase. You should inform law enforcement of your mobile security app that might help

locate and recover the device. In addition, the remote lock feature can prevent thieves from using your

stolen device. It may be best to remotely erase your personal data on the device if you believe it will not

likely be recovered or if it contains sensitive financial, health or work information.

For More Information

Visit and

life/consumer-tips/how-to-deter-smartphone-thefts-and-protect-your-data for more information about

protecting your mobile devices. A Spanish-language version of these consumer tips is also available.


Safety and Crime Prevention information is available from MPDC at

News and other information about the FCC is available at

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