Estimates show that 1.6 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2012 alone. Thieves were more active in big cities. For instance, close to 50% of the thefts reported in San Francisco were of smartphones. Smartphone theft also constituted 40% of robberies reported in most major metro cities, including NYC, and Washington, DC.
Why Is Your Smartphones Thief-Bait?
Stealing the smallest of smartphones is big business. Each device can be sold off on the black market for hundreds of dollars. Thieves make greater profits if the device is particularly valuable. It’s the iPhones that fetch the highest price. This has even led some to term the crime as “Apple picking.”
Others simply dub it as iCrimes. Making a bad situation even worse, you can even be a victim of identity theft if smartphone thieves are able to access your personal information. This can happen if your device is not protected by a password.
Smartphone Theft Prevention Act and Kill Switch
The most useful defense against theft and misuse of both device and data is the kill switch. This functionality benefits smartphone users. Reports suggest that kill switches reduce the number of smartphone robberies by 50%. In fact, it is so much of a deterrent that since July 1, 2015, California has ruled smartphones must be shipped with Kill Switch functionalities.
Smartphone robberies have fallen by 50% in San Francisco since 2013. Further, they have declined by 22% since 2016. This has been attributed by the state’s District Attorney, George Gascón to a legislation passed in 2015 known as the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act.
This law stipulates that manufacturers must make a smartphone with a kill switch. A kill switch is a software or hardware that renders mobile devices inoperable when it is switched on. It is available for device owners. Many of these kill switches come in the form of software for wiping or erasing remote devices or activation locks. This functionality is embedded in smartphones. It is extremely simple to switch it on.
This law was created as thieves developed a penchant for smartphones. This is not so unusual, considering smartphones fetch several hundred dollars on the black market. According to the Consumer Reports in 2012, 1.6 million smartphone thefts took place in the US. The figure rose by 94% in 2013 to reach 3.1 million.
How a Kill Switch Makes Sure Your Stolen Smartphone Dies
Once it is activated, the kill switch prevents smartphones from being reprogrammed via factory resets and put to use. This makes it nearly impossible for smartphone thieves to sell a working device. Both Apple and Google have launched integrated kill switches for smartphones in 2014. With this, users can access the most basic smartphone protection for their safety and security.
How To Make Smartphone Non-Functional If Stolen?
Activate Kill Switch On Android
Use “Find My Device” To Locate Your Smartphone
Google’s device tracking software, “Find My Device,” is accessible in the smartphone’s setting page. Through this software, you can easily locate the device from the browser signed into. Google “Find My Phone,” and it will display the current location in case the “Find My Device” software is working.
Another step is to unmask the device from Google Play. To unhide the device, go to Google Play settings page. You can toggle the visibility of your device there.
Follow these steps next:
Step #1: Activate Remote Access
- Access Google Settings.
- Then, you need to click the option for the Android device manager from here.
- Permit both of the options next.
- Click on Allow “Remote-Lock and Factory-Reset” as well as “Remotely Locate This Device”.
Step #2: Access Device Location and Lock It
- Go to a web-enabled device if you have been a victim of smartphone theft. Log into Google and access the panel for the “Android device manager.”
- You will be able to observe the location of the device on a map and either ring, lock or erase the smartphone.
- Now, the smartphone thief will have to prove they are you if they seek to factory reset the device and claim it as their own. Signing in with any Google account is permitted only if it was earlier synced after being added to the device as an account or user. It is not allowed for those signing in as guests. Thus, if this information cannot be shared at the time of the setup, the device cannot be used after a factory reset.
Steps To Activate Kill Switch On iOS
Locate Your Device Using “Find My iPhone”
Each iPhone is linked to an iCloud account. This has an “Activation Lock” as well as “Find My Phone.” While the former tracks the last known location of the device, the latter requires entering the username and password on the device to access it.
If you’re planning to sell your iPhone, you can turn off the Activation Lock. For this, you need to switch off “Find My iPhone” and remove the account from the device.
In case of a smartphone theft, the Activation Lock will stop thieves dead in their tracks. Now, they won’t be able to link the stolen iPhone with their own account, making it just about as useful as dead weight! For this, you must follow these steps:
Step #1: Enabling the “Find My iPhone” option
- Access Settings and go to iCloud.
- Use your individual Apple ID to sign in.
- Enable the “Find My iPhone” option.
Step #2: Enabling the “Lost Mode”
If you suspect your iPhone is stolen, or it is misplaced, you can enable its “Lost Mode”.
You can even use the option for customizing the lock with a contact number. This will ensure the safe return of your device in case it is lost. If the device is retrieved, it can be returned to normal by signing in with the Apple ID login.
How to Turn on Your Phone’s Kill Switch – Conclusion
Getting your phone stolen can be a panicky situation. But to make sure your data is safe (and also to ensure that the thief gets no profit from your phone), activate its kill switch. It’s simple and easy and will reduce the number of smartphone thefts. Here are some other methods you can use to keep your smartphone secure.