Have you ever lost your phone or had it stolen? It’s a frustrating and often scary experience, not just because of the financial loss but also because of the personal data that may have been stored on the device. In the hands of a thief, your phone can be used for nefarious purposes that can put your privacy and security at risk. So, what exactly do thieves do with stolen phones? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward. Some may sell it for a quick profit, while others might use it to hack into your personal accounts or even commit identity theft. In this article, we’ll explore the various ways in which thieves use stolen phones and provide tips on how to protect yourself against such malicious activities.
What Do Thieves Do With Stolen Phones?
When it comes to phone theft, the first thing that comes to mind is the loss of your expensive device. However, the consequences can be much more serious than just losing your phone. In the hands of thieves, your phone can become a tool for illegal activities and even identity theft.
Reasons Why Thieves Steal Phones
Now that we know how phones are typically stolen, let’s take a look at why thieves steal them. The most obvious reason is to make a quick profit by selling the phone. However, with the increasing value of personal data, thieves are finding new ways to profit from stolen phones.
One common use for stolen phones is identity theft. Thieves can use the personal information stored on your phone, such as your name, address, and credit card details, to open new accounts or make fraudulent purchases. They can also use your phone to access their email and social media accounts, gaining even more personal information about you.
Another reason why thieves steal phones is cybercrime. They can use your phone to send spam emails or texts, or even to launch cyber attacks on other individuals or companies. Your phone could become part of a botnet, a network of infected devices used to carry out attacks on other devices or servers.
In some cases, thieves may use the personal information on your phone to blackmail you. For example, if they find compromising photos or messages, they could threaten to share them online unless you pay them a ransom.
What Happens To Stolen Phones?
Once a thief steals a phone, they have several options for what to do with it. One of the most common is to sell it on the black market. Stolen phones can fetch a high price, especially if they are newer models or in good condition. Thieves may also sell parts of the phone, such as the screen or battery, separately.
Another option is to use the stolen phone themselves. They may remove any security features and use it as their own personal device. This can be especially dangerous if the thief gains access to your personal information and accounts.
Thieves may also attempt to access the data on the stolen phone. This can include sensitive information such as passwords, bank account information, and social media profiles. They may use this information for identity theft or other criminal activities.
How To Protect Your Phone From Thieves
Now that we know what happens to stolen phones, let’s talk about how to protect your phone from theft. Here are a few tips:
- Use a passcode or biometric authentication to lock your phone. This will prevent unauthorized access to your device and the information stored on it.
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep your phone close to you in public places. Don’t leave it unattended on a table or in an open bag.
- Install a tracking app that can help you locate your phone if it’s lost or stolen. Some popular options include Find My iPhone (for Apple devices) and Find My Device (for Android devices).
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks, which can be insecure and make it easier for hackers to access your device.
- Keep a record of your phone’s serial number and other identifying information in case you need to report it stolen.
- Consider purchasing phone insurance or adding theft protection to your phone plan. This can provide some financial protection if your phone is stolen.
- Be cautious when downloading apps or clicking on links from unknown sources. Malware and viruses can be used to steal personal information from your device.
What To Do If Your Phone Is Stolen
If your phone is stolen, there are a few steps you should take:
- Report the theft to the police: This should be your first step. You’ll need to file a police report and provide as much information as possible about your phone, including its make, model, and serial number.
- Notify your service provider: Let your service provider know that your phone has been stolen so that they can suspend service on the device. This will prevent the thief from making calls or using data on your account.
- Change passwords: If you have any sensitive information stored on your phone or linked accounts, change those passwords immediately.
- Use remote wipe: If you have enabled remote wipe functionality on your phone, use it to erase all data from the device.
- Monitor accounts: Keep an eye on any accounts linked to your phone for any suspicious activity.
The Risks Of Buying A Stolen Phone
Many people are unaware of the risks associated with buying a phone that has been reported as stolen. Not only could you be out of pocket if the phone is blocked or blacklisted, but you could also be supporting a criminal enterprise. In some cases, you could even be charged with a crime for knowingly purchasing stolen property. It’s important to understand the risks involved and take steps to ensure that the phone you are buying is legitimate.
Sell it for quick cash
One of the most common things thieves do with stolen phones is sold them for quick cash. They may sell the phone to a friend or family member, on a popular online marketplace such as Craigslist or eBay, or to a pawn shop. In some cases, they may even sell the parts of the phone separately.
Use it themselves
Another thing thieves may do with stolen phones is use them themselves. They can use the phone to make calls and send texts, access social media accounts and personal information, and even shop online using saved payment methods.
Access personal information
Thieves can also access personal information stored on their phones, such as contacts, emails, and photos. This information can be used for identity theft or sold on the black market.
In some cases, thieves may use your phone to commit fraud or other illegal activities. For example, they could use your saved payment methods to make purchases or sign up for services in your name, leaving you with the bill and potential legal consequences.
Hack into other accounts
If your phone is not password protected or easily hackable, thieves may use it to gain access to your other online accounts. They can use information stored on your phone such as emails, passwords, and security questions to reset passwords and access sensitive information.
In conclusion, phone theft is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences. Thieves can use your phone for identity theft, cybercrime, or personal gain, and it’s important to take steps to protect your phone from theft. If your phone is stolen, report the theft to the police and take steps to protect your personal information. And if you’re in the market for a new phone, make sure you buy it from a reputable source and check the IMEI number to make sure it hasn’t been reported stolen.
What is the most common reason for phone theft?
The most common reason for phone theft is an opportunistic crime. Thieves are always on the lookout for easy targets, and a smartphone left unattended or in plain sight can be an attractive target.
Can stolen phones be tracked?
Yes, stolen phones can be tracked using GPS technology. Most smartphones have built-in tracking features that allow you to locate your device if it’s lost or stolen. However, these features are only useful if they are turned on and configured properly before your phone goes missing.
What do thieves do with stolen phones?
Thieves can do a number of things with stolen phones, including selling them on the black market, using them to make fraudulent purchases or withdrawals from bank accounts, accessing sensitive personal information stored on the device, or simply wiping the phone clean and reselling it.