I know that it sometimes feels that it is. We all put a lot of ourselves into our mobile phones - friends, photos, games, social media, apps, the list goes on. But regardless of how much time and energy we invest in our phone, it is important to remember that this device is not more important than your safety!
Mobile phones are a common target for thieves. They are small, valuable, and almost everyone carries one.
Obviously, we should take care not to lose or damage our phones, but when the choice is between handing it over or getting hurt, the decision should be automatic. If you’re someone who would hesitate a little too long, here are a few tips to make it easier for you to prioritise your safety...
1. Lock your phone when not in use Make sure that you set up a PIN (or similar) that you need to enter in order to unlock your phone. It can be a bit annoying to have to enter it every time you use your phone, but it is the most fundamental way to secure your device and all the data on it.
2. Mark your phone and record the IMEI number The Queensland Police website (https://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/cscp/propertySecurity/identification/) details some simple steps you can take to improve the security of your device. You should also keep the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number in a safe place. You can find the IMEI of your mobile phone by calling *#06#.
3. Regularly backup your data By keeping a copy of everything on your home computer, you won’t be worried about losing anything if you lose your phone. The exact method will differ depending on the model of your phone and your computer. Instructions should be included with your phone’s documentation or on the manufacturer’s website.
4. Install a locator app (Find My iPhone, Find My Android, etc) Most smart phones these days include Global Positioning System (GPS) functions. It allows the phone to know where you are when using map apps, but it can also be used to help you (or the police) locate your phone if you lose it. Some of these apps will also allow you to remotely wipe your phone so that whoever took it cannot gain access to your personal data. Of course, if you ever get your phone back, it will be empty, but if you have a backup then that isn’t really a problem, is it?
5. Notify the appropriate people Remember that if you are ever the victim of a crime, call 000 (for emergencies) or Policelink on 131 444 (when you are safe) to report it. After reporting the theft to the police, you should also notify your phone network carrier (Telstra, Optus, etc). By telling them your IMEI (see above) they can stop your phone from being used - even if the thief puts a new SIM card in it.
We are not suggesting that you instantly hand over your phone to anyone who asks for it. There are many factors that need to be considered, (join Teen Defenders to improve your situational awareness skills!) but valuing a device over your safety - even at an unconscious level - is something to avoid!
By following the steps above you will make your phone easier for police to find and identify, less useful to the person who stole it, and you will also minimise the data you are at risk of losing. With all that peace-of-mind, you’ll have no reason not to put your safety first!