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Don’t Wipe Your Stolen or Lost iPhone, and Other Useful Tips

My brand new iPhone 5 got swiped over the weekend. I was not a happy camper. Lesson number one: Always keep this rather expensive investment on your person at all times. Here are a few other insights I gained from the experience.

Don’t Erase Your iPhone

If you activated the “Find my iPhone” feature in iCloud, your first instinct will be to “Erase iPhone” to remotely wipe your phone. Don’t do it! This effectively negates the most valuable feature — tracking your lost phone. Instead, use the “Lost Mode” feature to lock your phone with a four-digit passcode. If you already have your phone protected with a passcode there’s no need to use this feature. If you don’t, pause now and do it.

Of course if you have extremely sensitive data on your phone and protecting it trumps recovering your iPhone, go ahead and wipe it.

AppleCare+ or Insurance?

AppleCare+ costs $99 for two years and covers up to two incidents of accidental damage to your phone like spills and broken screens, with each incident subject to a $49 fee. Lost or stolen iPhones are not covered.

Mobile insurance from AT&T costs $6.99 per month and covers lost or stolen phones along with accidental damage. However, it comes with a high $199 deductible. Verizon has a similar plan. So, two years of insurance + deductible for an iPhone replacement will set you back around $367, still a considerable savings over a new $700+ iPhone.

Like mortgage/rent and car payments, smartphones have become a costly but necessary monthly expense and it’s becoming increasingly prudent to protect that investment. In the ten years or so that I’ve owned a mobile phone this is the first time I’ve lost or had one stolen. It can happen to anyone, and for some it’s a not so infrequent occurrence. I’d recommend going for the insurance option.

Additional Tip #1: If your iPhone gets lost or stolen soon after you buy it and you purchased AppleCare+, consider asking for a pro-rated refund.

Additional Tip #2: Check with your credit card company. Your lost iPhone might be covered.

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