24th Jun 2016
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What to do if you lose your phone
Lost smartphone on a bench

If you’ve ever lost your phone, you’ll be familiar with the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach the moment you realise it’s missing.

I experienced that feeling when I lost my phone at a beach in Port Macquarie. It had fallen out of my pocket and into the water without my realising, and it was only when I reached for it, just minutes later, that I realised it was gone, washed away by the waves.

Whether your phone is stolen or lost, the process for what you should do afterwards is the same:

1. Contact your service provider
If you’re on a contract or a sim planwith your mobile service provider, you’ll want to give them a call and let them know your phone is lost. They can suspend your service and block the phone so that if it was stolen or someone just happens to pick it up, they cannot use it. In my case, I knew my phone was drifting around in the Tasman Sea and in all likelihood, water-damaged beyond use, but for my own peace of mind, I rang Optus and followed the processanyway. This way, Optus would know that I no longer had an active phone.

If you have a prepaid sim card, meaning you purchase credit from somewhere, such as the supermarket, to recharge your phone, the process of cancelling your service will be simple. If, however, you’re on a contract or a post-paid sim plan, you’ll be paying monthbymonth. If this is you, you’ll have extra incentive to buy and set up a new phone quickly, because you’ll continue to be charged each month whether or not you are actively using the service.

2. Purchase a new handset and set it up
Now that you’ve lost your phone, clearly you’ll need a new one. Choosing a new phone comes down to person preference. One important thing to consider is whether you will remain with the same brand as your lost phone or opt for an entirely different one.This is particularly important if you wish to transfer your original phone’s information onto your new one (if you have backed up data). This guide provides useful information about how to choose the right smartphone for your needs.

Note: if your smartphone is missing rather than lost, you may be able to find it using apreviously set-up phone tracking system. For iPhone, just sign into your iCloud account or use the Find My iPhone app to see where your missing iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac is on a map. For Android, you can use Google's Android Device Manager. Both these apps only work if you have location services enabled on your missing phone.

3. Back up your phone
Perhaps the most distressing part of misplacing your phone is losing photos, messages, contacts and notes stored on the device. In a situation where your phone goes missing, it pays to have been fastidious about backing up your phone’s information. By ensuring your phone is backedup regularly, all the important data will be available on your computer or the ‘cloud’ to transfer onto a new phone.

Back-ups can be done manually by plugging your smartphone into your computer, or by programming your phone so that whenever you connect to wifi, the data on your phone is backed up onto the cloud. If you have an iPhone or iPad, this article can show you how to back it up.

Unfortunately, if you have lost your phone and did not back it up, you’ll be unable to retrieve any lost data. If you do have to start from scratch with your new phone, consider backing up it up regularly should something ever go awry again.

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