by Kye Husbands

Losing a smart phone like an iPhone, BlackBerry or a Samsung Galaxy S can be a gut wrenching feeling.

First there’s the information on the phone you worry about, including all of your contacts and your emails/text messages and then of course the reality that you need to come up with $500 or more to get connected all over again.

If that’s where you are as you read this, sorry!!! So let’s separate fact from fiction when it comes to losing your phone.

If you installed any of the apps we’ve mentioned time and time again on this blog, the first thing you can do is try to see if you can locate the phone.

Apps like FindmyiPhone or Lookout Mobile allow you send a note to the phone (a reward perhaps), wipe the phone remotely, or possibly locate the the phone if you realize early enough.

1) Call your carrier to report your phone lost or stolen. Doing so is really about preventing someone else from running up additional charges on your bill and making a bad situation even worse. Don’t delay on this, because quite a few customers have been saddled with enormous bills in this situation along with the stress of fighting with their carrier to reverse these type of charges.

2) The bad news, once someone takes the SIM card out of your device and plugs in their own SIM card they have a new phone to use – free and clear. Although every device has a unique identifier called a IMEI number, there is no national or global database of IMEI numbers for the carriers to know if and when your device is reactivated on their network. So in short, once your phone’s SIM card is removed your phone is gone, but make a note of your IMEI number now, none the less. You can obtain your IMEI number by entering the following 5-digit code in your dial pad (*#06#).

Go lose your mobile phone in Ottawa

How to safeguard your smartphone data

How to find lost BlackBerrys remotely

There has been a lot of talk recently in theUS, where 40 per cent of all robberies now involve cell phones and the FCC is trying to champion a law that will blacklist lost or stolen IMEI numbers, thereby rendering them useless.

No such plan is in the works in Canadaand the carriers here have been belly aching about the cost of maintaining that database. Go figure, a great opportunity for them to get on the side of consumers and they blow it again. But one thing’s for sure, the carriers love money and they may see this as an opportunity to rip Canadians off for this so called privilege.

So how does the L.O.S.E.R Fee sound? (Lost or Stolen Emergency Recovery Fee) Would you pay this fee to help the carriers cover the cost of maintaining a national database of lost IMEI numbers?

PS – One more thing, never purchase electronic equipment (smartphone, tablets, camera, etc.) at a retail store, leave the bags in your car and return to shopping. This apparently has been one of the easiest ways for thieves to target you and steal your brand new smartphone, tablet or whatever else they can get their hands on.

Of course, if you are in the market for the best cell phone deal you can find, give myCELLmyTERMS a shot.


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  • Losing my Blackberry would be nothing more than a minor annoyance. I’d simply send a security wipe command via BES, pick up another BB, and upon reconnection to BES all my old data would be restored. Maybe 10 minutes of inconvenience once I have the new device in my hands.

    Oh, and even if someone puts their SIM into a stolen Blackberry, that device’s PIN has already been blacklisted by RIM as stolen, so it won’t be much use other than a telephone.

    Guess that’s the difference when dealing with a product that’s been designed for security from the ground up.

  • Chris

    What’s the advantage of knowing your IMEI if there’s no way to blacklist it in Canada? Also, is this in fact true? I’ve heard rumours that Canadian carriers will sometimes blacklist an IMEI if a phone is stolen, making it useless on their network. (locked/unlocked is out of scope for this thread)

    I haven’t however found any definitive information on the web about IMEI blacklisting in Canada, can you cite your source?

  • Chris

    So, real world example:

    Husband, wife, child all get iPhones on one contract. Husband and wife split up. Split starts to go sour, disgruntled husband cancels cellphone contracts for wife and child. Wife buys new SIMs, continues to use phones. Husband reports phones stolen, Telus says 1-36 hours to take affect, one phone now reporting “No Service”. *SO*, I dare say the do blacklist IMEIs in Canada.

    This scenario was developing as I wrote my last comment, was researching as a favour for the wife.

  • Roberta

    Telus and Bell are both CDMA carriers. They don’t go based on a Sim card for their original service. If you call their customer service to report a lost phone, they have a program where the serial number can be put into it and it will be blacklisted from their network. I used to work in Bell Mobility and knew the programs inside out. It’s why you have to go into a store to do a number change, the numbers are programmed directly into the phone and not a Sim card.

  • Linz

    It’s not the loss of info and contacts that’s the problem. I had my Galaxy Nexus stolen from a gas station while i was digging money out of my pocket…Guy grabbed it out of my purse and ran…He immediately took the battery/sim out (within a minute), rendering all recovery/GPS software useless….all he had to do was a factory reset/hard reset on the phone and it was brand new again….The problem lies in the $500 cost of breaking the contract and starting over versus the $499 cost of buying a refurbished device, versus the $600 cost of brand new…Whichever way it’s a pain in the wallet.