Phone Stolen in Korea? 3 Tips from The Arrival Store
Having your phone stolen is an experience that no one wants to go through. Nate, an expat living in Korea, shares his insights on how to avoid it, and gives some advice on how to deal with it if it does.
Originally from Texas by way of Chicago, Nate is one of the Arrival Store’s on-site gurus. Currently living in Itaewon, Seoul, Nate gives us the very last word on all things The Arrival Store in South Korea.
Hello Arrival Store Smart Phone Users (or future ones)!
We hope you’re doing well and are enjoying the HECK out of your phones.
Recently, a few of our smart phone users have lost their phones or had them stolen. One of those users contacted us immediately so we could shut down their service, then sent us this email a couple of weeks after their phone was stolen:
[blockquote]I got an email from my Gmail account last night that someone in Hanoi, Vietnam tried to access my email account from a mobile device, but the login was prevented due to suspicious activity. I’ve since changed my password and set up a 2-step verification process to prevent anyone from being able to access my email account except me. I was wondering what exactly happens when my phone service was shut off? Does the person who stole my phone still have access to everything on the phone?[/blockquote]
This customer has graciously allowed us to share their story, and we would like to take this opportunity to answer their questions for everyone. We hope that some of this advice might also be useful to the community at large.
But FIRST, you might be wondering what you can do to prevent this kind of thing from happening to you:
1. Guard the phone like it’s your first-born!
Be aware of your phone at all times. Depending on the model, new phones range from $500 to $800 to replace. If you had $500 – $800 cash in your hand, would you:
- Leave it sitting on a bar or restaurant table?
- Get out of a cab and leave it in the back seat?
- Drop it in a toilet?
- Stare at it while walking aimlessly down the street?
- Leave it exposed in your bag at your company/school picnic?
We definitely understand that phones are sometimes stolen, and that when they do it’s a difficult experience. However, the majority of our phones are lost or broken beyond repair (water damage isn’t repairable) due to small oversights or not being conscious of one’s surroundings.
[blockquote]Arrival Store Customers, please note, we LOVE YOU. Sometimes you make us laugh, but sometimes you make us cry…[/blockquote]
2. Set up a passcode or pattern lock.
In a recent survey from Business Wire, almost half (47%) of mobile device users report they do not use a password, screen lock or other security feature on their phone. This is a little concerning given the amount of access to sensitive information a smart phone typically allows you. Most of the time, people stay signed into apps like:
- Mail or Gmail
- Kakao Talk
- Many other social networks.
Banking, credit card and other financially-related applications will make you sign in every time. However, if there’s any trace of your username or password in your email account, your financial accounts could be compromised.
Layers of protection are usually best:
- Use a different passcode to get into your phone than the rest of your secure content.
- Do NOT use the same password for EVERYTHING (in the same survey, about one third of those surveyed said they use one password for all digital access)
- Use a combination of PINs, pattern locks and passwords. Combine them if you can.
I know this might all sound extremely paranoid, but if you lose your phone or have it stolen, you will be extremely grateful that your sensitive information is secure.
3. Install or activate a tracking app
I almost hesitate to put this on the list because, in our experience, stolen phones are LONG gone within 24 hours. The above example is not the first time we’ve had one of our phones end up in another country (most typically, stolen phones make their way to China or India and are resold there).
Unless the phone is reported lost or stolen within 24 hours, it’s very unlikely that a tracking application will work, especially if the phone’s battery dies or the phone is turned off. Only the information from the last time a phone was checked in will be available.
Remember, they are mobile phones, and don’t typically stay in one place for any extended period of time.
Now, to answer our customer’s questions:
- What exactly happens when my phone service is shut off?
- Does the person who stole my phone still have access to everything on the phone?
We shut off the phone service IMMEDIATELY when we hear about lost or stolen phones. Until we hear about it, our customers are responsible for any calls, text or data usage on the phone.
In this particular case we shut the phone down so no one could make calls or use data on the device unless it were unlocked or “jailbroken”.
However, since we can only shut off the cellular service, whoever had possession of the phone would be able to access it if there were no passwords or security locks in place. All the apps that our customer had installed and remained signed-in to (Gmail, banking apps, social media, etc) could be accessed by anyone who had access to the user interface of the device. What’s more, they could still access any online content connected to those accounts through a WiFi connection.
We REALLY appreciate our customer allowing us to share their story. We hope it’s been at least a little bit helpful.
Please guard your phones carefully, and take proper security measures. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, get in touch with us IMMEDIATELY so we can shut down your service.
If you have any thoughts or questions then let us know in the comments below, or call us at our Korean offices – 031 6252258.