Summer is a great time for vacation for everyone but criminals, for whom it’s among the busiest times of year. That’s because travelers make for easy marks, and their high volume means that criminals have a target-rich environment from which to steal — and never was that more true than now, with the worldwide popularity of smartphones and mobile devices.
Aside from some of the traditional traveling precautions — locking your valuables in a safe; keeping them out of site when in public; being especially wary of pickpockets in crowded touristy areas — there are other necessary precautions that travelers must account for now to prevent data and device theft on vacation. Chief among them is to write down the IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity; it’s like the device equivalent of a car’s VIN) and to have the number of your mobile provider to call in case your device goes missing (note that the numbers for calling domestically and internationally will be different, so be sure to have the right one).
But let’s say the worst case happens, and your smartphone or tablet goes missing while you’re at the lake, beach or other summertime destination of your fancy. Take these steps immediately to mitigate the damage of potentially stolen data and to hopefully recover your device.
- Call your own phone: The best-case scenario is that you simply misplaced it and you’ll hear it ring nearby, or that a friendly stranger will have found it and will tell you where you can pick it up.
- Locate your device: If the best-case scenario isn’t your scenario, immediately take action to recover and/or remotely wipe your device. If you have Kaspersky Mobile Security installed in the device, you can locate your smartphone, send a message to it, potentially take a picture of the thief, and, if necessary, you can wipe it remotely to prevent theft of your data — and your identity.
- Block the SIM card: If you are sure that your phone is really gone, this is your next step, regardless of whether it’s a contract or a prepaid phone. If you’ve brought with you the IMEI and your mobile carrier’s number for reporting lost or stolen devices, as recommended, you’re now able to do this. Call your provider’s number and have the SIM card locked immediately. This will prevent the thief from accessing your data; the loss will be limited to the value of the device itself, but no more.
- Report the incident: If the worst-case scenario happens and it turns out your smartphone was stolen, not just misplaced, while on vacation, inform the local police immediately. Provide the authorities with your phone’s IMEI or serial number, as this will be vital information for prosecuting the thief if they are ever arrested.