Getting your cell phone stolen at home is awful, but getting your cell phone stolen when you’re in a foreign country is even worse.
I received a couple of questions about what you should do if your phone is stolen when you’re in a foreign country so I thought I would offer up some tips and tricks based on my research (I can’t speak from experience on this).
“Find my Phone” Feature
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, your phone is most likely equipped with some form of phone location feature that utilizes GPS tracking to pinpoint your device’s location.
Using the phone locator service will not guarantee you get your device back, but rather it should be seen as a way to remotely wipe all of your sensitive data from the device so that the information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Contact the local police and file a police report
Once you’ve confirmed that your phone isn’t in your backpack or back in the hotel room, it’s time to notify the authorities. The purpose of this step should be primarily viewed for insurance recovery purposes. All credit card companies with theft protection plans (more on this later) require an official police report to be submitted.
Be warned that dealing with police in a foreign country probably won’t be easy. There may be a language barrier and general lack of concern for your cell phone loss.
Don’t take it personally.
Remember, your goal here is to get the police report document.
Contact your carrier
As soon as you are able, contact your cellular provider and report the phone stolen. By doing this, the carrier can block the device from being used on any other network and prevent any unwanted charges. From T-Mobile:
If your device was recently lost or stolen, we’re here to help. You can suspend your account and block the device from being used on any network by contacting Customer Service, or accessing My T-mobile.
Gather your proof of purchase documents for insurance recovery
As with the police report, maintaining your proof of purchase documentation is paramount. At a minimum, the receipt should show when and where you bought the phone, the method of payment, the date, and the price.
Tips and Tricks Before Traveling
The “Trap Phone”
I’m a huge fan of YouTube tech reviewer Flossy Carter. One of the best tips Floss has given when traveling is to bring a “trap phone”, which certainly has more than one meaning, though the meaning in this context is a throwaway phone.
If you have a spare cell phone lying around like an old Galaxy S5 or iPhone 6, consider getting this device unlocked and bring it with you on all of your trips. If you’re going out in a crowded place, by the pool, or on the beach, bring the throwaway phone. This way, if it gets stolen, lost, or damaged, you still have your main device as backup.
Front Pockets Only
If you are able, only carry your cell phone in your front pocket.
Ladies, even if you have a purse, put your phone in your pocket if you have them.
While pickpockets are great at what they do, pickpocketing from your front pocket is more difficult than the back pocket or your purse/backpack.
Credit Cards That Offer Theft Protection
Some, not all, credit cards offer cell phone theft protection. It’s important to point out that saying your phone was “simply lost” without an explanation is not covered most of the time. What this means is you can’t go ahead and throw your Samsung Galaxy S9 down a sewer when you want an iPhone X. That would be fraud 🙂
Ink Business Preferred credit card
Get up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card. Maximum of 3 claims in a 12 month period with a $100 deductible per claim.
Wells Fargo Consumer credit card
Pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo Consumer Credit Card and you’ll get up to $600 protection (subject to a $25 deductible).
Eligible cell phones are protected against damage or theft, however coverage does not include cell phones that are lost.
Note: Call your cellular provider (or log on to their website) and request to set up automatic payments. Setting up automatic payments is not required to qualify for Cellular Telephone Protection; however, you need to pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo Consumer Credit Card to get up to $600 protection.
Uber Visa Card
Up to $600 for mobile phone damage or theft when you pay your mobile phone bill with your card.
What are your best tips for righting the ship if your cell phone is stolen abroad?