Stolen mobile - keeping it safe

With the mobile phones now having such high value these days they have become a common target for thieves of today.

“Apple Picking” as it’s called by thieves, who steal iPhones, is a problem we should all be aware of, but perhaps the question we should be asking is where’s the money for the thief, in the phone itself or in the data stored on the phone?

What's worth more your phone or your personal data:
Consider that a good smart phone today can cost £400 plus, they’ve become an easy target, but if we consider what data we may have stored on our phones, then the value of the phone could be small by comparison. Identity theft can be very lucrative and a mobile that has the right personal data on it could be the start of a journey into a world of pain and loss which far outweighs the value of the phone, as they clean out bank accounts, run up large bills and spend your hard earned money.

As we all know prevention is always better than cure, so we’ve put this blog together with some hints and tips on how to protect your smart phone and the data stored on it.

Most at risk group:
This data is more critical for younger people because the most at risk group for having their phones stolen are the 14 – 24 year olds, so if you have children or you are a in that age group this is far more relevant to you.

First let’s look at simple precautions to keep your phone safe:
1.       Consider where you keep the phone. Don’t leave it within easy access of a thief – deep pockets, internal pockets are a good start and make sure it’s not on show.
2.       Think carefully before using your handbag, but if you have to use your handbag make sure it’s not visible – i.e. the bag is kept closed.
3.       Consider the area where you are using them. Remember we tend to get lost in our conversations at times and wouldn’t notice someone as they ran up and grabbed your phone until it was too late.
4.       If you have the latest ‘state of the art’ smart phone, avoid flashing it around in public, as far as possible.
5.       Make sure when using the phone you hold it firmly in your hand or use some form of hands free kit which enables you to keep the phone in an internal pocket out of sight, as well as leave your hands free.
6.       Never leave your mobile unattended – it only takes seconds for it to disappear.

So what should you do if your phone is stolen?
Hopefully this won’t happen to you, but if it does, knowing what to do can make all the difference when it comes to claiming on insurance and avoiding being charged for use of the phone.
1.       Contact your provider immediately. They will likely disconnect your service so that no money can be spent using the phone. Check your contract for any aspect that you may still have to pay.
IMPORTANT – make a note of the time, date, name of the person you speak to, what they said and their extension number and ask for something in writing stating what was agreed. This could be critical information if the thief makes costly calls while they have the phone.
2.       Contact / report the theft to the police and get a crime reference number. This will make all the difference when dealing with insurance.
3.       If you don’t get a crime reference number you could get a loss reference number from the Police or the relevant authority such as Transport for London
4.       The address of the Police station along with the Police Officers badge number that you spoke to.
5.       Note the time and date as well as the last call you made or text you sent

Other information about protecting your phone:
1.       If you’ve mislaid your phone and you’re not sure whether you’ve left it somewhere or its been stolen, you can call the number. Now remember to be polite at all times because the person may be going to return the phone even if you suspect otherwise.
2.       Keep a record of the following information about your phone and keep somewhere safe:
a.       Your Phone Number
b.      Make and model
c.       Colour and any identifying marks
d.      Pin or security lock code
e.      Record the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) – see below how to find this number
f.        Add a security mark using an ultra violet pen (post code / house number) to the inside of the phone and on the battery. It will need to be re-applied every couple of months because it wears off.
g.       You could also include another number or email address in case someone finds the phone and wants to return it.
3.       Use the security lock or pin feature to lock the phone – this makes the phone less valuable to the thief and helps protect your data.

IMEI / MEID numbers – these are individual numbers that relate to your phone only. There are several ways to find this number, the simplest of which are listed below:
1.       Look in your original packaging – not in the booklet, but in the box or used as part of the seal.
2.       Under the battery side your phone
3.       Type *#06# where you would normally dial a number to call and it should bring the number up on the screen without you having to type or press any other button.
Use technology – anti theft software

Today there are various anti theft software programs that can be used on today’s mobile devices. Most will track your device, so that you can find the phone and some once activated will keep the phone on so that it can be tracked, whilst blocking your phone.
Because this technology is fast paced we would recommend doing your own research and reading reviews.
Many of these are also free to use, so there are very few reasons not to sign up to one of them.

Another additional idea is to register your mobile device with www.immobilise.com They have a database linked to every Police force in the UK, which the Police use to check mobile phones. It’s also a FREE service and has resulted in 100’s of mobile phones being returned to their owners.


Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with any of the above, but being prepared is always the better option – shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, is too late.

Holiday Security – looking after your possessions.

Once we leave the home and start that journey towards fun and frolics, it’s easy to switch off to the issue of security, but one moment of lapse can cause much upset and leave you with a negative memory of what should be a fun time.
What we've done here is list out some of the points to consider whilst away to help ensure you come back from your holiday with smiles of good times only.



Airport and Luggage:

Parking:
Long stay parking – if you’ve placed your car in long stay parking, make sure the car is empty, especially the inside which is visible. Remember that means your GPS device as well if it’s removable.
If you are leaving the car with at a secure parking company, only leave the car key with them. Don’t leave the house keys on the key ring.
Luggage:
Don’t place your address on the outside of your cases. If you do use an address on the outside, use a work address or place where you know you will be readily identified.
Don’t leave luggage unattended at any time.
Locking your luggage – TSA (Travel Sentry Approved) padlocks are the best option because the airport security should be able to open them with special tools and then replace them, should they need to check inside your suitcase. Check before you pack what is and isn’t allowed, as this can save a lot of upset at a later stage, if you find you’ve taken something not allowed on the plane.
http://www.exeter-airport.co.uk/baggage-advice excellent info on what you are and aren’t allowed to take on the plane. You should also check with the specific airline you're using in case they have any rules of their own.

At the Resort:

Passport and money:
The first step is to read up about the country and resort or location your visiting, to know what to expect. In general it’s best to only carry a little money with you if you are out and about, that way if the worst happens, you have something to give, but you don’t lose too much.
If the hotel or your room has a safe, make use of it but if no safe exists, then ideally keep it in a money belt or somewhere not easily removed by pick pockets.
Waterproof pouches should also be considered especially if you’re likely to end up getting wet at any point. A few other things you can do to help yourself in case of Passport theft are:
·         Take a two photocopies of your passport and leave one with a friend and keep one with you, but not with your passport.
·         Make a note of your passport number, place and date of issue.
·         Scan a copy and email it to yourself, to enable printing out in an emergency.
·         Take a second form of photographic ID if you have one.
·         Be wary of anyone asking you to surrender your passport, such as car hire – make sure the request is legitimate.
·         Before you take your holiday, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your return date.
If anything is stolen, report it immediately (within 24hrs) and get a written report.
Avoid keeping travellers cheques and passports in the same place
When changing money, have the right money ready – avoid showing a large wallet full of money.

Pick pockets:
In many countries pick pockets will operate in areas where they know tourists are abundant, so remember to keep purses and wallets well hidden from view and handbags closed.
If someone bumps in to you – immediately check your pockets – money, phone, passports etc. Remember those that are good at this will seem so genuine and it will all happen so quickly that you may not even consider that you’ve just lost your purse.

Mobile phones / devices:
The first question you should ask is do I really need to take it with me? If the answer is yes, then consider what your holiday consists of, especially if you’re likely to be playing on the water (Sea or Pool) while away. Waterproof pouches exist, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure it works before using it for the first time.
Hotel safes would be another place to keep them, but if you need to take them with you, keep them out of sight as far as possible.

Return Trip:

Look into the regulations of that country. You may find that they have different rules in their airports. Make sure you don’t try and take anything on the plane which is not allowed. Some countries are stricter than others and some of the fines could certainly ruin an otherwise great holiday.