What do I do if my iPhone is Lost or Stolen?

Holy flaming monkey balls! I lost my iPhone! What do I do?

  1. Call AT&T Wireless at 800-331-0500 and use their menu to report a lost or stolen phone.
    This does not protect your data in any way, it only shuts down the ability of your phone to make or receive phone calls. (Your monthly bills will CONTINUE… haha.)
  2. File a police report.
  3. Try not to kick yourself for not following the rest of the instructions in this article…

That SUCKS. What Else Can I Do?

To bring back that lovely word we learned in 8th grade sex-ed: PREVENTION!

Even if you don’t like it…. it’s time to change the security settings on your phone.

  1. Enable Auto-Lock : Settings -> General –> Auto-Lock (must be ON, e.g. 3 minutes)
  2. Enable the Passcode Lock : Settings -> General –> Passcode Lock
    Turn Passcode ON (enter a 4 digit passcode twice)

  3. Require Passcode : set a time interval, e.g. “Immediately”, or “After 15 min.”
  4. Enable the Self Destruct : Erase Data –> ON (Erase all data on this iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts)
    * Gulp… this one isn’t for the weak of heart. Ideally, all the data on your iPhone is only a copy, right? You’ve synced recently, RIGHT!? Well… there is the possibility that you’ll lose unique data if these feature ever kicks in. There’s also the possibility that some a-hole trickster buddy of yours will finger-mash your phone repeatedly in order to delete everything. No matter if your data is in the hands of nefarious users or deleted by rowdy friends, either way, this is a serious feature.
Passcode Lock Screen on the iPhone
Passcode Lock Screen on the iPhone

And for more privacy….

Turn OFF SMS Preview : Settings -> General –> Passcode Lock –> Turn OFF SMS Preview

* The preview is what displays on your phone when a text message comes in… by default the ENTIRE text and the sender’s name shows up on your screen without you having to unlock the phone. This could be embarrassing if the text is personal (e.g. if you are sleeping with your boss’s wife, and you get a bunch of XXO’s coming in during an important meeting). If you have the SMS Preview disabled, you’ll only see “New Text Message”.

And for the Good Samaritans…

There is a web site dedicated to lost and found iPhones:

You can register your serial number on your phone and put a message on your wallpaper where the person who finds your phone can go and contact you to get it properly returned. I encourage everyone to do this. There are a lot of good people out there, and hey, doing this simple step allows those people to be good. If all they got is a random phone that self-destructed its data, then they might just decide to keep it, but if they can look up your name and address, they might try to give it back to you. Think positively.

52 thoughts on “What do I do if my iPhone is Lost or Stolen?

  1. One of the folks over at Apple that we interviewed for this article was kind enough to follow up with us personally. The app he mentioned allows “tracking” of an iPhone. It’s called GPS Tracker by InstaMapper.

    It’s an interesting app… you could put your phone in your girlfriend’s car and track where she went… stuff like that (whee!). However, your phone is NOT tracked all the time. Your phone sends tracking data ONLY when the application is running. On the iPhone, the software must stay in the foreground. Other phones allow the software to run in the background.

    As such, I don’t think it’s a valuable tool to prevent or safeguard from iPhone theft. You’d be one lucky SOB if you just happened to have left this app running in foreground when your phone got stolen.

  2. I just signed up for http://www.ifoundyouriphone.com (also available under myfoundcast.com). It’s basically a really nice web page that saves you some Photoshop work and they provide a unified contacting service, but you could ultimately achieve similar results by doing one of the following:

    1. Photoshop an image so it contains your contact info, then set that image to your wall paper
    2. Physically put your contact info somewhere on your phone (etch it, put a bit of tape… you know… low-tech-like).

  3. With the latest iPhone update (software 2.2), the privacy level slipped a bit. You can still have message previewing disabled, but now the sender’s name is displayed. Before it used to just say “New Text Message”. Now you’ll see “Bob Smith — Text Message” pop up on your phone. It’s great that Bob’s message didn’t appear, but I’d rather not have people seeing who is texting me.

    I’ve resorted to a solid low-tech solution: keep my phone in my pocket.

  4. So I lost my iphone yesterday..and I have a password on my iphone..I guess the person who found it cant use it cuz she/he doesnt know my password……….so what should I do????????????

  5. My purse was stolen on Sunday with my iphone inside. I have a password on my phone. Apple told me a person get’s 10 tries and then the phone locks up. The phone is lost and I have not find anyway to replace it without paying full price. The only positive thing is that the thief won’t be able to use it or sell it.

    1. yes he will you idiots its called restoring the phone you plug it into itunes and restore it or put it into dfu mode first then the iphone itself will tell you to plug it into itunes to restore before you can use it.

  6. Yeah, it sucks if your phone is stolen, that’s why I wrote this article. Please make sure you read our article carefully!

    You can have a passcode on your phone that will erase your data after 10 failed attempts, but you MUST turn on that feature (see the article above). And this only protects your DATA, not your phone. Of course Apple or AT&T will not reimburse you for your phone if you lose it. Most insurance companies won’t insure a cell phone against theft. To make matters more interesting, some industry professionals say that insuring your phone is a bad idea, and all-in-all, your phone may not be worth it..

    Even with something as expensive as an iPhone, the phone itself is a small part of the actual cost… I paid $200 for my phone, but the monthly charges are close to $100!! It’s like the Gillette razors… they give the razors away because the cartridges are where they make their money.

    So if someone finds your phone, of course they can use it… they may need to get a new SIM card and reset the phone, but yes, they can use it. The idea here is to protect yourself as much as you can. It all reminds me of a Bible verse: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal”.

    So call the police and file a report and have that SIM cancelled (see the article). I hope your find your phone!

  7. Sure, Robert, you can get a replacement phone, but you’ll have to pay for it; don’t expect AT&T or Apple to give you a break. As outlined in the above article, the first step is to report the phone as lost by calling AT&T at 800-331-0500; then you can go about getting a replacement phone.

  8. I lost my iPhone yesterday and have since cancelled the service so the person who found it can’t use it. What I would like to know is since I didn’t have the passcode enabled, if the person puts their sim card in and uses it, can’t it be tracked then or does the person do some other stuff to it so it doesn’t get tracked?

  9. No, unfortunately the phone itself is more or less an empty shell for the SIM card. Once the thief discards your SIM card, the phone itself is basically untrackable. I even talked this over with an AT&T employee; the only thing that is ever tracked is the SIM card.

  10. guys, if you have a jailbroken iphone you can instal iLocalis from cydia, this apps tracks your phone using GPS and iphone IMEI number, you can set after how long is tracks 10,15,30min or 1hr periods. you can also block and delete all data on the iphone within minutues, when you visit your account at iLocalis the website will show you exactly which house the phone is in, 2g iphone uses edge but 3G and 3GS uses GPS.

  11. I had my stolen this week. My concern is my email account. Can the thief access the internet, if they have access to a wifi hotspot or through their own router? I’m worried that they would have access to my email account.

  12. My ex and I have had a falling out and he reported my iPhone , which was on his plan as lost. Can I still 7 my phone of I get A-side account inky own name?

  13. I phone was stolen 3 weeks ago so I went to the ATT store I have a friend working there he asked me to get my IMEI number and he will be able to tell me if my phone is activated by runing that number (IMEI number)
    I hope this can help

  14. Your article doesn’t say what to do if I am an idiot and did not have a passcode set? I deactivated my sim card with AT&T and changed my passwords for itunes and my email account…but how do I stop the phone from receiving emails etc? Does the person who stole it have access to my email account?

  15. Very good question. I would call AT&T and confirm that directly. Some of your email settings are visible (like your email addresses and mail servers), but your passwords are hashed on the phone, so those should be safe. But it still sucks.

  16. I recently had my iphone stolen from work, but amazingly I was able to track it down. I went onto the att website and signed up with the free trial for family map, which gives a general location on where you phone it located. I then went to the general location with a bunch of friends and we blitzed the neighborhood giving a description of where it was stolen from (my work) and couple of people we thought might of taken it. It turns out one of the people that we talked was the mother of the girl who stole my phone, and she ended up dropping it off at my work. I cant tell you how grateful I am to have my phone back, however the screen it scratched to hell, and I had the auto earase after ten tries activated on my phone, and it just so happens that I have not synced in like a month (during this month I took a trip and got to meet lots of new people and all of there phone numbers are gone 🙁 )

    1. hi i know you posted this about a year ago but how did you get the security code? My phone was just stolen today and i was gonna sign up for family map but they can only send a text message to my cell phone with a security password they cant e-mail it to me or give it to me over the phone.

  17. Can anybody please help me? I know the last comment was a couple weeks ago but please I’m desperate! So someone stole my iPhone, and what’s worse is I believe it is someone I know. My iPhone is password protected and I have some apps that are hidden and some that are locked. Is there any way that whoever stole it can gain access to my files? With all the hacking these days it’s driving me crazy just thinking about it. Or is the only way they can get onto my phone is to restore and delete all the files and everything on it? The phone is jailbroken. Please help, thanks!

  18. I bought a new iphone just yesterday and I even havent put any sim in it…it was totally a new piece.didnt even get to touch it for long time..but I lost it…how can I find the iphone and get back?is their any solution???

  19. Ok I was robbed at gunpoint o March,14 and my bill was due March,22nd. I immediately went to the police department filed a report. Then called Att to temporarily suspend my line. I try to fax them my police report or send a copy bymail, but it was a hatle to get their adress. And I didnt have the resources to fax them. But now their saying I’m still in a contact with them. And their charging me for services I didnt use. Can they do that?

  20. someone stole my iphone at a school function and im really worried now because pretty much my whole life is on that thing and it wasnt cheap to buy. when i tried calling it, it went straight to voicemail, leading me to believe it either lost battery or whoever stole it turned it off (hopefully the first one, idk that many people that have an iphone, so i bet they dont have a charger) well eventually, it will lose battery, but i could be screwed by then. im afraid of people getting into my personal info (ie pictures, videos messages) is there anything else i can do to get it back? stealing IS a crime…

  21. Man, it SUCKS to have your stuff stolen. My opinions of ATT are wholly negative. They think they have the world hanging from their nuts (if their enormous political contributions are any indication), so I think you’ll have a tough time dealing with them.

    @oliva: get in touch with ATT as soon as possible. There’s not much you can do after the fact re your data. Hopefully the thief wanted only the phone and not the data.

  22. My iphone4 was stolen. Even if I change the password to my email, then they still have access to my email without having to enter a password. what should I do? My phone was password locked, but I don’t think that I enabled data erase feature.

  23. Actually, now if you get a new phone with the same phone number, the SIM card on the old phone is deactivated and useless. This means that there is no data on your phone, it’s just a useless shell with no brain.

  24. Well I lost my I phone. Some advice the otter box case is great for protecting you phone from damage but the clip that holds it will put you in my situation
    A Lost phone 🙁 I do have a question I had a passcode on my phone so if they do what is called restoring the phone. “Where you plug it into itunes and restore it or put it into dfu mode first then the iphone itself will tell you to plug it into itunes to restore before you can use it” Will my pictures and notes and files still be on the phone and then they will have access to them or will the phone be wiped clean??? Thanks

  25. I found an iphone 4. I destroyed the sim card. Can I put my own sim card in it and use it? The phone is ATT, I have ATT. I actually have a iphone 3G. I restored the iphone 4, but am just afraid of getting in trouble.

    1. Is it yours? No. Did you pay for it? No. The nerve to come to a forum where people have had their property stolen and ask for advice on keeping someone else’s phone is unbelievable. Get a f**king job and buy your own. Take the one you have STOLEN to the nearest police station and get it back to it’s owner. I’m sure they will be grateful as any of the people here would have been. Some people make me sick.

    2. Shame on you Shana – you knew the right thing to do and yet you didn’t do it…..remember – what goes around comes around, just hope your ready for what comes back to you!

  26. “I destroyed the simcard”.. Doesn’t sound like someone who found something to me.. F**king b**ch.

  27. My phone was stolen a few days ago. We already filed a police report, and unfortunately I don’t have any of the tracking apps installed on it.
    I was wondering however if you can track it through the google maps app that comes with the phone?
    Also, if all the data is deleted when they can’t get into it after ten tries than does all my text messages get deleted as well? It’s important that I have this information.
    Thank you.

  28. My daughter lost her phone and I tried to get a clerk at an ATT store to see if anyone activated it and he said they don’t do that? Her background had my name and number incase phone was lost. How can I find out if someone activated her iPhone 4 and then if they did will the police help me get it back? She just got it so we r stuck in a contract! Thanks!

  29. Curious if when you enter the wrong passcode enough times and your iPhone erases all the data, does it also erase the passcode so the person who finds my phone can just reformat it on their Mac and use it?

    Is it more secure to set it to NOT ERASE THE DATA or to ERASE THE DATA after entering the wrong passcode.

    My understanding is that if you only set it to lock the phone, the phone will be useless until it’s connected to the last synced Mac, correct?


  30. My question is if my phone did have a password but i broke it and sold it someone on ebay for parts.when they fix it. Will they have to restore it before it opens or will they have access to all my pictures work numbers etc … It did have a password and i took the simcard out.

  31. I have the same question as A, my phone was lost, but found by a thief, who did not turn it in to any police department or cellular store. I did have a passcode on, but did not have the “erase all data” feature turned on. What exactly can the thief see on my phone. I was told by Verizon that they would not be able to turn said phone on due to it being reported lost, so what use is it to people if they cannot activate phone? I don’t get it.

  32. My phone got jacked at work. I’m pretty sure it was a coworker. Even if she destroyed my sims and uses hers… Can the police atleast tell me the name of the account holder of the sims currently used since they say they can’t gps and tell me where it is

  33. Same story as everybody elses my iphone was stolen at my office on the military base. if your iphone was stolen YOU ARE S.O.L theres nothing you can do. pay for a new one or add a second line to your account and get another iphone at a discounted rate. thats what i did. originally i payed 100 a month for my iphone now i pay 110 a month for 2 lines and a new iphone which i got for 150 through atat for opening up a family plan.

  34. i lost my iphone in saudi arabia….some one took it after that he shut down it……my SIM was inside can i know the location in saudi arabia that where it can be please help me to find my iphone…

  35. Ok, my phone was stollen while sleeping n returned before i woke up. That day all my pictures/data was all gone n now my internet is this web to go crap n using windows when I’m with tmobile n have 3g n unlimited data plan. So friend tht stole it i think took it mainly to steal my internet for his computer so he doesn’t have to pay for it. But now, my serial number is all one number n everything else to identify me n the phones info n software version has been changed along w its internal infos making it not work as before…so i think they have copied my sim card n anything like gmail, when i sendemails to try n get the correct infos to fix myself, says “redirecting” message n than ill never get a response to help me fix it. Is It possible for someone to do this n also my moto blur no longer sees me as having an accounwith them. Did he erase this as well ? What else can i do? Ive even run system reprts n fixes n seems hes always ahead of me one step cause whn i go to to fix it, tht website is all in a different language n wont let me change it but only my fixes sites r like that n nothing else. Please someone help me n answer my questions. U guys r seriously my last n only hope. Ive just lost my daddy to cancer n all pictures of him llll never get back so anything i can fix now n keep will b a huge blessing n joy during this 2 week period of loss n sadness n a true test of patience n how much one can take . Please anything will help me right now. I appreciate it n all the still good pleople in the world…thx

  36. Also, how do I change my internet provider or whatever it is from this windows crap to my internet that came with my tmobile phone??

  37. What if my iPhone gets stolen and they erase all the data and get rid of my SIM card? will it still be trackable?

  38. My iphone 4 was stolen last week last week :(((
    Plus I did not put a passcode, and have no tracking app :(((
    Have suspended my account calling AT&T.
    I so much love iphone, ready to get a new one, but not sure how much is the cost for new. Am still in 2 yr contract period with AT&T. So the new phone will be costing $200 again, or more?
    Also can I use the same number, or number changes?

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