We are literally carrying our lives on our mobile phones. Contacts, emails, SMS, messenger services, chat apps, bank account apps, photographs of friends and family members, places we have traveled to (remember, Google Maps is following you!). And yet, mobile phones must top the list of items forgotten, misplaced, lost, or simply, stolen, next to the umbrella. And while someone make give you shelter under their umbrella, no one is going to share their mobile phone with you.
So what do we do in this case? Before you loose all the data, make it a habit to take data backups regularly. That way, even if the device is not in your possession, the data is available with you. But then, the data is also available with the person who found your phone. Finders, keepers? Yes, and no. Your data is more precious than the hardware device. When you lose your mobile phone, its the data that has more value and that data loss could be used to cause a bigger damage – unauthorized access to your bank accounts, emails, messages, photographs, contacts, sending inappropriate messages to your contacts, etc.
Reporting loss of mobile means that you can be issued a SIM card with old number, but the lost/stolen device can still be used by changing the SIM card. So if there can be a way by which your lost mobile can itself be made useless (well, it can still be used a as paper-weight), it is by blocking the IMEI of that instrument.
Ok. So what is IMEI? IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. Every mobile phone manufactured has a unique IMEI number. This number will appear on the phone box, and you can also check this number of your phone by typing *#06#. If you have a single SIM phone you will see a 15 or a 17 DIGIT digit number. If your phone has two SIM cards, you will see two IMEI numbers. The IMEI numbers are also printed inside the battery compartment. Every time you make a call or send a message, your phone’s IMEI number is also sent to the operator, thereby leaving a trail of the instrument used. But IMEI only identifies a device, not the user. A phone may change hands, but the information about the new user is not registered anywhere That what makes it so easy to re-use stolen mobiles.
To counter this illegal sale and use of stolen and lost mobiles, Government of India has started the Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR). Here, one can register a complaint for blocking lost or stolen mobile phones. If you do manage to find your phone later, you can again place a request to unblock the instrument. You can also check the status of your request.
The CEIR connects to the IMEI database of all the mobile operators. CEIR acts as a hub for all network operators to share black listed mobile devices so that devices blacklisted in one network will not work on other networks even if the SIM card in the device is changed.
What can you do if your mobile phone is lost / stolen? Here are the steps:
- First, immediately report to the nearest police station, file a written complaint containing your mobile phone number, operator, brand and model of phone number and preferably, the IMEI number. Also state when and where it was lost/stolen. Take a written acknowledgement of your complaint.
- Immediately contact your service provider (Airtel / Jio / BSNL / MTNL / Vodafone, etc) and instruct them to issue you a duplicate SIM card on same number. For this they may insist that you first register a police complaint, hence step one was essential. If you have the purchase invoice of the phone, that will be very helpful.
- Then head to the site ceir.gov.in and fill in the online form to place your request.
- After placing a request, you will be issued a Request ID which can be used to check the status of your complaint and unblocking your phone in the future.
Here is what to do when you buy a new mobile phone:
- Insist on a receipt of payment that shows the date, cost, brand, model and IMEI numbers of the mobile phone. The receipt is a proof of your ownership.
- Scan this receipt and save it on your cloud drive on Google or your favourite cloud storage. That way it will be accessible to you at all times and from everywhere.
- Note down the IMEI numbers and other details like brand, model number in your personal diary.
- Activate the biometric recognition (face recognition or finger print recognition) so that only you can access your phone. Other option on many phone sis a 4 or 6 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). Set this to something that is easy for you to remember, but certainly not “0000”, “1234”, etc.
- Link your phone with Google account as Google has a feature whereby you can trace the location of your phone. This can come in handy when you know that you have not lost your phone but only misplaced it in a familiar place.
Oh, by the way, your mobile phone has one more number in addition to the IMEI number. Its shown when you type *#06#. Its called the MEID number. Do you know what it is? Check it out on Google. Share your experiences of misplacing your mobile phone and how you could get it back.