Nightmare: Lost Smartphone

Now it happened to me. I probably mocked others too often.

The good thing: with Sim-PIN, Pattern Password und Fingerprint unlocking it's almost impossible to run it with my Google Account anymore. Would that be possible easier, a finder could e.g. use all stored password in Chrome.

Now it was gone and I had time to think.

Immediate problems

My company's VPN is activated via Authenticator App or SMS - both only working with the smartphone.

Any Multi-Factor-Authentification that is required … is impossible (except it allows email as alternative).

Particularly hurtful:

  • Banking access
  • Mails
  • Instant Meassaging

I own a substitute phone. But it's apps were not updated for a year. E.g. when opening WhatsApp it asked for phone number validation via SMS again.

What should I have done beforehand?

Note down the IMEI number - it's required by the police should you report a theft (to get your insurance to pay).

  • Call: *#06#+
  • find it in the settings
  • or on the packaging

Put my address as printout in the case.

Add my name to the lockscreen.

Backup data more often.

What did I do after the fact?

Try call the phone (if it still had battery)

Got the last location before the battery drained.
There you can also let the phone ring, if it still has power.
There you can also enforce logout and put you name on the lockscreen.

Hung a search-note on the street / point of potential loss.

Hung a search note on my door.

Made a Facebook entry in the group of my city

Posted on Twitter

Posted on a neighbors-platform (

Wrote a mail to the local lost&found office.

What can the finder do?

If the phone still has charge, just keep it running and charge it, do not remove the SIM card, so the owner can still locate and call it. Once the SIM has been removed, this does not seem to work anymore. Also, once the battery drained and/or it was restarted, locating is not possible anymore.

German tips:

  • Check Facebook, esp. the city's group.
  • Check on Twitter
  • Check on a neighbors-platform
  • Announce the finding at the local lost&found and bring it there.
  • Revisit the finding location, there might be a sign.

How did it end for me?

I was lucky. The finders ringed at my door after seeing my sign… luckily.

What did I learn?

  • All of the above.
  • There are still good people out there.
  • Own a substitute phone, no matter how cheap.
  • Already have a replacement SIM at home.
  • Update the substitute phone regularly.
  • Sync the Authenticator-App on both devices
  • Back up even more to the Cloud.


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