Unfortunately cell phone theft is happening more and more these days. Most people know to call their wireless carrier to prevent outrageous calls, Sometimes they can get their private information wiped from their phone. Still cell phone insurance is costly and purchasing a replacement phone is even more expensive. For many of us, it also means losing a lot of personal information that may not automatically back up to Google or the iOS cloud.
According to The Washington Post wireless carriers are working with law enforcement agencies on the state and federal level to create a centralized data base of stolen phones. The idea is that if they can brick the phones or at least keep track of them through phone identifiers shortly after they are stolen the secondary market in stolen phones will dry up. If you make the stolen phones useless shortly after they are nabbed, then there isn’t really any incentive to continue to steal cell phones or so they hope.
Along with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the police chiefs, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) will announce a bill that would criminalize efforts to tamper with the identifiers on the hardware of phones.
It is expected to take six months to get everything in place so that the carriers and police are coordinating their efforts. The police are looking forward to the central database since a large percentage of stolen goods are cell phones.
Until that happens, there are some programs that can at least help you wipe your personal data from the phone and some that can help you locate it. Lookout Mobile Security and Antivirus has a Missing Device feature that will help you “locate, lock, scream, or wipe your device from Mylookout.com”. It also provides an antivirus and backup feature in the free version of the app. The premium version ($29.99 a year or $2.99 a month) adds a Privacy Advisor and Safe Browsing.
Avast! Mobile Security is another great security app that offers many of the same features that Lookout has. You get an antivirus, privacy report, SMS/call filtering, app manager, web shield, and firewall. It’s antitheft measures include: app disguiser, stealth mode, battery saver, self-protection, Sim-card-change notification, a trusted Sim card list, Siren, Lock, custom Display properties, Locate, Memory Wipe, covert Calling, Forwarding, “Lost” Notification, SMS Sending, History, Restart, and more. All of these features are included in the free app that works on rooted phones as well as on stock phones.
These are just two of the many security programs that you can find here in Google Play. Many offer a free version and a premium version so check out all of the features and decide which version will suit you best. Look at these apps carefully because unlike other apps that you can just uninstall if you don’t like them, some of these are difficult to get rid of without taking extra steps. That’s part of their security.
The coordinated effort on the part of law enforcement, the FCC and wireless carriers is a welcome step to reducing the theft of smartphones. But until the database is up and running find a security program that you like and put it on your phone. Even with insurance, these apps can help save you from having embarrassing information fall into the wrong hands.