What to do in case of theft or loss of the mobile?

If our mobile is stolen or lost, there are services that will facilitate us locating or blocking the device. But if this is for professional use, we will have to advise us to know if its disappearance may affect the personal data of third parties. In this post we give you advice on how to act in case of theft or loss of the mobile . Keep reading:

Theft or loss of the mobile

As has been shown in the post “Is it advisable to secure a smartphone?” , The mobile phone has become our best ally and main Internet connection device in front of the PC and the “tablet”. And not only for digital natives such as “millennials” or members of generation Z.

More and more elderly people are using the smartphone to be in contact with family and friends. So much so that terminal manufacturers and application developers, aware of this, have conceived specific products that facilitate the use of the device and its services to those who, by age and habits, are less familiar with new technologies.

It is estimated that in the world there are about 8,500 devices connected to the Internet, of which more than half (around 4,850 million) are smartphones. Mobiles that are used to make personal or professional phone calls, keep up to date with the latest news, send emails, send text messages to our contacts, share photos, videos or audios …

On this last utility, we were recently surprised by what happened to an Argentine boy of 11 years. During a journey with his grandmother to a bank, the boy lost his smartphone. So far, the event did not seem to have anything new. What really moved was knowing that the device contained photos, audio and videos of his mother, who had died months before suffering from cancer. In an emotional message through television and social networks, the boy made a public appeal with the aim that whoever found the terminal would send him, at least, the saved memories of his deceased mother.

How to act in case of theft or loss of the mobile?

Undoubtedly, cases like this exemplify the upheaval that may lead us to believe that we lose or steal our smartphone. Hence the importance, as stated in the aforementioned article, of securing our device, as the coverage included in the manufacturer’s and commercial guarantees is limited.

In the face of the loss or theft of the mobile phone, it would not be strange if we had a panic attack or an anxiety crisis. And some questions would begin to arise: how can I recover my smartphone? What will happen to the data stored in it? What will happen if someone manages to unlock it and makes phone calls abroad or tries to access my bank account?

In such situations, from the Office of Security of the Internet (OSI) of the National Institute of Cybersecurity (Incibe) provide us with a series of valuable tips that we must put into practice in the event of being victims of theft or having lost the mobile phone:

How to locate the device?

First, we will have to try to locate our smartphone. To do this, the operating systems have search services that can be useful: Find my device , on Android, and Find my iPhone , on iOS.

If we believe that the phone is near us, the function “Play sound” will cause the terminal to sound at full volume for 5 minutes to facilitate its location (even if it is in silent or vibrate mode).

Can we lock the smartphone?

Yes. Thanks to the search services it is possible, and advisable, to block the phone to protect the data it contains. And also to indicate to whoever finds it that the device can not be reactivated without our password.

In addition, a message or phone number can be added to the lock screen to facilitate its return. But beware: the OSI alerts us that we must be cautious with the messages we receive, since they could have associated some type of fraud.

Is it possible to erase the device data?

So is. What’s more: if we do not have much hope of recovering the smartphone, OSI advises us to delete their data remotely. Thanks to this option included in the search services we can remove all information from the mobile phone, although it is not safe to do the same with the data contained in the SD card.

Can the telephone operator help us?

If requested, our company can block the phone’s SIM card to prevent other people from making calls or consuming data. Once the SIM card is blocked, the search service may not work.

If it is a robbery, it is best to report it.

Given the theft of a smartphone, OSI recommends reporting it to the Security Forces. And for that, we’ll have to know what the unique identifier (IMEI) of the terminal is. It is reflected on a sticker with a barcode on the phone’s packaging box.

If we have contracted insurance for the device that includes the coverage of theft, it is important to keep the receipt of the complaint in order to present it to the insurance company.

In addition, both the IMEI and the complaint will be useful if we ask our telephony operator to block the smartphone to prevent it from being used with another SIM card.

What should we do if the phone is for professional use?

As we have seen, the loss or theft of a mobile phone can become a real headache. But if the device is for professional use, belongs to an insurance intermediary -for example- and contains personal data of third parties, the matter is complicated. In that case, we could be talking about a security breach. In this regard, from the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) remember that:

  • “Security breach or breach of the security of personal data is understood to be any incident of security that causes the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss or alteration of personal data transmitted, conserved or otherwise processed, or communication or access not authorized to said data “.

If an insurance mediator loses or your smartphone is stolen, it is of vital importance that you immediately inform the entity (or entities) with which you collaborate, the brokerage for which you work or your advisor on data protection . Once the professionals are aware, the latter will be the ones who determine if the case is to be treated as a security breach and if it constitutes a risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons.

If so, article 33 (Notification of a violation of the security of personal data to the control authority) of the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD) establishes:

  • “The obligation on the part of data controller to notify the competent control authority (AEPD) of any security breach, without undue delay and in any case within a maximum period of 72 hours.”

And, additionally, article 34 (Communication of a breach of the security of personal data to the interested party) adds:

  • “When the security breach entails a high risk for the rights and freedoms of the holders of the data, in addition to the communication to the control authority (AEPD), the data controller must communicate it to those affected.”

It is important to bear in mind that failure to report a security breach can be considered a serious infraction that entails extremely high administrative fines. Therefore, it is advisable to protect our smartphone with robust security measures, hire additional insurance and be cautious to avoid losing the device or falling into the hands of friends of others. And no less relevant: be well advised in terms of data protection to avoid breaking the rules.