Erasing Your Phone Remotely

Uh oh.  You’ve lost your cell phone or else your cell phone has been stolen.  It’s a hassle and it will cost you but the phone itself can be replaced.  While there’s no need to cry over spilled milk, there is good reason to worry about someone finding your cell phone and using your personal information to steal your identity or commit fraud in your name.  Photos, e-mails and more in the wrong hands could lead to humiliation or even blackmail.

Today’s phones offer so many options for storing and sending information that losing your phone could put you or your company at risk.  Have you ever stored a company document, debit and credit card passwords or online banking passwords on your phone?

The steps you’ll need to follow to remotely erase your cell phone information will vary depending on your phone but just about every cell phone has some option for remotely killing your cell phone memory. Here are some examples.

Erasing iPhones

If you have an iPhone and Mobile Me, you can “ping” a beep and “I’m lost” message that should work even if your iPhone is on silent.  You can also use Find My Phone to erase your phone completely. Look under Remote Wipe at the apple web site for details.

Erasing Android OS phones

For $19.95 Android smart phones can be located or erased using the “SMobile Anti-Theft” app.

Erasing Palm Pre

Palm pre users can go to the palm website and learn more about the “Erase Device” option.

Erasing BlackBerry OS phones

Any BlackBerry phone can be remotely wiped with “Erase Data and Disable Handheld” IT commands.  There’s also a Roblock app for Blackberries for $9.95.

The bad news is that having or using a remote erase plan doesn’t necessarily keep you safe from identity theft or fraud.

The pitfalls for remotely finding or erasing your phone:

  • Someone may have found your phone and stolen your information before you erased it.
  • Your phone may be in an area with no signal and can’t be found or erased.
  • The cell phone battery could die before you do a remote swipe of your cell phone.

Considering possibility number one alone, consumers who do a cell phone wipe should still protect themselves from identity theft by checking statements carefully and even getting free credit check reports.

The best way to protect yourself is to not store financial and private information on your cell phone unless it is somehow totally encrypted to others.

Have you ever lost a cell phone and tried a remote erase?  We’d love to hear from you.