The times for casually walking around with your cell phone in hand have long passed. With smartphones costing up to R25 000, notorious cell phone snatchers have become more sophisticated, utilising getaway cars to make a quick escape.
Plus, with mobile devices containing more personal information than ever before, criminals are no longer simply stealing phones for their resale value. Instead, some cell phone snatchers also try to gain access to the vast amount of personal data on your device including passwords, contacts, emails and social apps to either defraud their victims or commit other crimes using the victim’s personal details. It’s therefore crucial to ensure you not only keep your physical device safe, but also your data should your phone get stolen or lost.
PROTECT YOUR PHONE
The most important tip to keep in mind is to always be aware of your surroundings. A distracted person makes for an easy target.
- Whenever you’re in a public space, it’s important to keep your phone out of sight whenever possible. Most devices are grabbed out of individuals’ hands while they’re completely engrossed in an online conversation or browsing through their social feeds.
- When driving, ensure your phone is not visible. Either keep your phone in your pocket or in a compartment in your car. Remember, using your phone while driving is illegal, and this also applies when waiting at intersections or stuck in traffic (when many smash and grabs happen).
- Don’t leave your phone on a car seat or on a table when out in public.
- When you have to take a call or respond to a message while in a public space, check your surroundings at all times throughout the interaction.
MY PHONE’S GONE! NOW WHAT?
- Smart devices have a built-in locating function which helps you not only find your phone (if you’ve simply misplaced it), but also to block the phone and wipe any data from the device remotely. Here’s how to do it:
- For Android devices: https://support.google.com/android/answer/6160491?hl=en
- For Apple devices: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201472
- For Xiaomi devices running on MIUI OS: https://xiaomi-mi.com/news-and-actions/how-to-find-your-lost-mi-smartphone/
** Note that the phone must be switched on and have an internet connection to enable the above services to work.
YOUR PHONE’S DEFINITELY BEEN STOLEN
- If you’re unable to locate your phone or wipe it remotely, you’ll need to report your stolen phone to your network provider to have the SIM blocked as soon as possible.
- Your network provider will also blacklist the phone preventing criminals from registering the device on another network. You will be given a blacklisting reference number as well as your phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.
- If you make use of an online banking app, report the matter to your bank’s fraud division to unlink your device from your banking profile.
- Change the passwords for all your email accounts, social media profiles and other sensitive services.
- Next, report the incident to your local police and provide them with both the blacklisting reference and IMEI numbers to formally open a case.
- The police compare all recovered devices to a national database of stolen devices which is updated on a monthly basis. Should they find a match, the rightful owner of the device will be contacted.
- Inform your family, friends and colleagues that your phone has been stolen and to be on the lookout for any suspicious messages or posts on your social feeds requesting money.
Sources: UCT’s Information and Communication Technology Services | SAPS | SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric)