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How to protect your smartphone from thieves

By Mike Wheatley | August 21, 2017

Anti-theft software is increasingly being used to recover a stolen smartphone, and real estate pros should pay attention.

Statistics show that phone-related robberies in San Francisco have fallen by more than 50 percent from 2013 to 2016 since the introduction of the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act that requires manufacturers to install anti-theft software on all of their devices using a data only sim card.

Such software includes activation locks, tracking technology and remote device erasure utilities. Here’s how you can ensure your devices are making the most of their built-in security capabilities.


Google’s favored device tracking software is called Find My device, which can be enabled in the security settings of all Android phones. Simply open up the settings and go to Google > Security, and switch on the “Remotely locate this device” and “Allow remote lock and erase” options. With this, you can locate your Android phone wherever in the world it may be from any web browser, via your Google account. Just type in “find my phone” in Google Search and you’ll see if the software is enabled on your device and if so, its current location.

To protect yourself you must also “unhide” your Android phone from the Google Play service via its settings in order to prevent thieves from performing a factory reset and claiming it as their own.

Google states: “You can sign in with any Google Account previously added and synced to the device as an account or user, but not as a guest. If you can’t give this [Google account login] information during setup, you won’t be able to use the device at all after factory reset.”


As for iPhone users, each device is linked with an Apple iCloud account and comes with Find My iPhone software and an Activation Lock feature. Find My iPhone allows users to identify their iPhone’s last known location, while Activation Lock will prevent anyone from unlocking the device without a username and password.

You can access Find My iPhone via Settings > Apple ID. From there, select the appropriate device and enable the feature. You’ll also need to ensure that Find My iPhone has location access, which can be enabled via Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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