Do you know what you should do if you find a cell phone in the street, at the mall, in a store? If you’ve found a cell phone lying around (or, perhaps, in a taxi or on the bus), it may be a lost cell phone that somebody dropped or that fell out of their pocket or purse, or it may be a stolen cell phone that the thief has now dispensed with. In any case, if you’re wondering “I found a cell phone, what should I do with it?”, here is what you should do if you find a cell phone.
The first thing that you should do if you find a lost or stolen cell phone is power it up (if it’s not already powered up) and make a note of the phone number. You may need to poke around the phone to figure out the phone number, or it may, if you’re lucky, display its own cell phone number on the power up screen (or, if the phone is already powered up, on its screen saver or home screen).
The second thing you should do is look to see if you can find any owner information on the phone. Particularly with ‘smart phones’, such as the iPhone, the G1, Blackberry and other such phones, you may find that there is an icon for ‘Owner Information’ or ‘In Case of Emergency’ (“ICE”) right on the home screen.
Obviously, if you find full contact information for the owner (such as an alternate phone number, or an email address) then you can just stop here, and contact them – they are almost certain to be thrilled – and while you may or may not get a money or goodie reward, certainly karma will smile upon you favourably!
If, however, no owner information can be found, then you can take these following steps:
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1. Google the cell phone’s number, a few different ways. For example, if the number of the cell phone you found is 650-292-2198, you would try Googling “650-292-2198”, “650.292.2198” and “6502922198”. Doing this, there is a very good chance that you will turn up contact information for the owner.
2. If searching the phone number on Google doesn’t turn up any useful information, find the phone’s IMEI number (‘IMEI’ stands for “International Mobile Equipment Identity”). Usually this is on a sticker inside the battery compartment, often under the battery, so you will need to remove the battery. Then Google the IMEI number, as people often will post the IMEI number in “lost phone” forums. Example: If you Google the IMEI # 357335010775863, you will turn up a posting right here on our own site which includes the contact telephone number and email address for the person who lost the cell phone with IMEI # 357335010775863 (you can try out this search here).
3. If you’re adventurous, you can go into the phone’s phone book, and call a few of the entries, telling the people who answer the phone that you’ve found this phone, and can they please put you in touch with its rightful owner?
4. You can post the phone’s information right here, in the comments to this article!
Finally, while we actually discourage people from turning phones in to the lost-and-found where they found the cell phone (because often articles in the ‘lost and found’ are donated to charities or even given to employees after a few weeks) or taking the phone to the cell phone store (they rarely actually know what to do with it, or they shut the service off on the spot which, as the phone is secure with you, doesn’t help the phone’s owner) you can take the phone to your local police station, and turn it in there.
We hope that this article has been helpful – and please share your “found cell phone” comments and stories with us!
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