What to do if your cell phone is lost or stolen during a vacation

An estimated 8.7 million mobile phones were reported lost or stolen in 2021 – more than 1,000 every hour. With so many people packing their bags for their summer vacation, it’s important to take the right precautions in case of a missing device.

Brean Horne, a personal finance expert at a comparison website, NerdWallet, shared five easily observable precautions that vacationers should take to protect themselves if their cell phone is lost or stolen overseas. Here are some simple tips:

Change passwords

Changing passwords to email accounts and social media is one of the first steps to take if a phone is lost or stolen. This will help prevent anyone from accessing private information that could be used to commit fraud.

Most apps like TikTok, Instagram and Gmail keep your username and password, so you don’t have to keep logging in. While this can help save time, this means that anyone can access these accounts.

Disabling this feature or remembering to log out of accounts when not in use could make your phone more secure and reduce the risk of access to these options if your phone is misplaced or stolen.

Cancel cards connected to a device

Apple, Google Pay, and online banking are one of the most widely used payment methods today, and can be enabled by simply entering a password, face recognition, or fingerprint authentication. While facial recognition and fingerprint authentication may be more difficult for someone else to access, passwords can be guessed more easily.

Canceling any cards connected to a device will help prevent unauthorized payments. If you think you’ve just misplaced your phone, your cardholder may offer the option to “freeze” your card, which temporarily blocks payments until you track it.

Keep the location turned on

Keeping your GPS location on your phone can help you track it more easily. Most phones offer a “find my phone” security feature to track a device, call it, and delete information from it via GPS. This feature needs to be turned on with the phone settings and is worth keeping on, especially when traveling abroad.

Log out of Cloud Services

The place where most of your personal photos, contacts, and data are stored is the Cloud (apps like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox), and you certainly don’t want anyone accessing that feature. Follow the correct steps using another device to log out of the cloud and even change your password to prevent someone from trying to log back in.

The jump in the cost of living is suppressing household budgets, and some have to choose between heating and eating.

Here are some resources available if you need help.

Citizens’ Advice

Citizens Advice is an independent charity offering free, confidential support with legal, consumer, housing, debt and other issues. Its website details what help is available and where your nearest office is, for face-to-face advice.

Helpline: 0800 144 8848 in England / 0800 702 2020 in Wales (open 09.00 – 17.00 Monday-Friday)

The Trussell Faith

The Trussell Trust maintains a national network of more than 1,200 food banks, providing free emergency food to those who need it. You can use it website to find support wherever you live.

Helpline: 0808 208 2138 (open 09.00 – 17.00 Monday-Friday)

Turn2us

Turn2us is a national charity providing practical support to people struggling financially. Its website includes a benefit calculator and details of plans and grants in your area, including energy and water bills.

Helpline: 0808 802 2000 (open 09.00 – 17.00 Monday-Friday)

Contact a mobile provider

It is necessary to inform the service provider if the device is lost or stolen. Whether it’s a pay-monthly contract or a paid SIM, they can block the device to prevent unauthorized calls or data usage. They will also issue a new SIM card with an existing number.

You may also be able to get a replacement phone, depending on both carriers and how long you will be out of the country.

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