What to Do If Your Phone Is Stolen

The not so humble smartphone has become a significant part of our everyday lives. Whether you’re a CEO, a busy parent, a social media addict, or all three, your phone is most likely the control center amongst the chaos, helping you to organize your finances, stay in touch with your family and interact with your friends.

It contains your emails, contacts, photos, financial details and more, so having it stolen can be extremely distressing. These days, it’s not just the hardware itself that’s valuable to criminals, the data on your phone is worth just as much as its resale price on the black market. According to Consumer Reports, 3.1 million smartphones were stolen last year alone in the US, nearly double the number stolen in 2012. So what should you do if your phone is stolen?

If you do have mobile security app

If your phone has been stolen and you have a mobile security app, the first thing you should do is try to locate, lock and possibly wipe your phone. These immediate actions give you a fighting chance of finding your smartphone before you suspend your service. With mobile security, you’ll have the breathing room you need to contact the police and your carriers.

Lock your device

Mobile security features like Lock and Wipe allow you to remotely lock your device to stop thieves from accessing your personal data. You may even be able to post a custom message to the home screen that could help you get it back!

If you are positive that your device is gone for good, then you have the option to remotely wipe your smartphone to ensure that your important information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Locate your device

Mobile security apps like Lookout also allow you to easily locate your phone using GPS. It’s as simple as logging into your account using a web browser and finding its location. Once you’ve located your device (and it’s definitely not hiding under the couch cushions) give this information to the police. For your safety, leave it to the experts to retrieve.

Stay safe as you get your device back

Once you have more information on your device’s whereabouts, rope in law enforcement and don’t try to be a vigilante. The tips below for people who don’t have Lookout installed will still be helpful for you, too.

Whether or not you have a mobile security app

Contact your provider

If your cell phone is lost or stolen and you don’t have a mobile security app, the first thing to do is contact your network provider, who will be able to block your phone in order to stop anyone else from using it.

This is particularly important if you have a pay monthly contract, as you will be liable for any calls made (or expensive apps downloaded) before you report your phone stolen.
Most of the major US network providers allow you to suspend your service and request a new SIM online or by calling their customer service department.

Reporting a lost or stolen phone to Verizon

Verizon Wireless allows you to temporarily suspend your service if your device has been lost or stolen, and your line will automatically reconnect in 30 days giving you the chance to find or replace your smartphone.

Reporting a lost or stolen phone to T-Mobile

T-Mobile allows users to suspend their service online and has a program that allows you to transfer your contacts and personal information to a new device.

Reporting a lost or stolen phone to AT&T

AT&T allows users to not only suspend their service, but to block the device from using voice, text, and data on the AT&T network if another SIM is inserted.

Reporting a lost or stolen phone to Sprint

Sprint asks users to call them immediately on 888-211-4727 to suspend service if you suspect that your phone has been lost or stolen.

Notify police

If your cell phone has been stolen it’s also important to notify the police, as insurance providers will usually need a crime reference number in order to process any claims.

If you use your smartphone to shop or bank, you may also need a police report to dispute any fraudulent charges made on your debit or credit card accounts using the stolen device.

Make a report at your local station, being sure to give them your device’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, which your network should be able to provide you with. (You can also find this on your account settings page if you do have Lookout installed.) This could help the police get your phone back to you if it were to be recovered.

Change passwords and PINs

According to a nationwide survey by Consumer Reports, 34% of Americans don’t passcode protect their cell phones.

If you’re one of the people that make up this statistic, then it is absolutely essential that you change any passwords or PINs that are stored on your cell phone, as well as passwords to apps that automatically log in when you launch them on your device.

Bank details, user names, passwords and PINs, when used along with the personal data readily available on your phone (your birthday and address, for example) can easily be used by thieves looking to capitalize on your misfortune.

If you use your mobile device to shop or bank (with a banking or store app, for example) then it’s also a good idea to contact your financial institution and credit card company, as it may be necessary to cancel any cards stored on your smartphone.

Prevention is better than cure

In the future, the single most important thing you can do to prevent anyone from getting to your personal data if your phone is lost or stolen is set a passcode. Not only does it make your device a less attractive target for cell phone theft, it means no expensive international calls can be made at your expense; your personal information will stay personal no matter who ends up with your cell.

Set a complex password that you’ll remember but thieves won’t guess (don’t use common passcodes like 1234 or 0000), and set your screen to auto-lock within five minutes.

Backing up your data is also a great way to ensure you don’t lose important contacts, photos, music and more. Many service providers offer this service free of charge.

As well as this simple precautionary measure, downloading a mobile security app such as Lookout is a great way to add an extra layer of protection. From locating your phone to remotely locking and wiping it, Lookout makes defending your personal data simple.

Article courtesy of Lookout (https://www.lookout.com/resources/know-your-mobile/what-to-do-if-your-phone-is-stolen)

Comcast cable franchise agreement approved

SPIN Network teaching Lao Women's Association students at Comcast cable modem recipient Filipino Community in Seattle

SPIN Network teaching Lao Women’s Association students at Comcast cable modem recipient Filipino Community in Seattle

On December 17, 2015, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to approve the renewal of Comcast’s cable-television franchise agreement. The 10-year agreement between Comcast and the City of Seattle includes significant benefits intended to improve Internet access in Seattle.

“The approval of this revised and improved franchise agreement reflects my administration’s commitment to digital equity, with more residents gaining access to discounted Internet service and resources to further close the digital divide,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We are a city known for our technology and innovation, yet even in our connected city, digital opportunity is lacking for far too many. The benefits included in this agreement will have a meaningful impact on digital equity in Seattle, helping new populations gain access to the Internet and learn the skills necessary to be part of our digital society.”

The vote follows efforts by Mayor Murray and City Councilmember Bruce Harrell to get Comcast to increase its commitment to digital equity in Seattle, and ensure that any benefit commitments by Comcast were made in a legally enforceable manner.

“We demand the best customer service for our residents,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee. “We focused on expanding low-income discounts and ensuring all residents get the best service.”

“In addition to providing cable television service to Seattle residents, the revised agreement includes many important community benefits, including discounted Internet service to low-income seniors, a $500,000 digital equity grant, and a partnership to provide devices such as laptop computers for housing-insecure youth,” said Michael Mattmiller, the City’s Chief Technology Officer.

The 10-year agreement between Comcast and the City of Seattle includes significant benefits intended to improve digital equity and access to information in Seattle. Benefits of the agreement include:

  • 600 free cable modem Internet connections to non-profit organizations serving Seattle residents, valued at approximately $10 million. These connections help increase digital equity by increasing the number of sites where the public can access the Internet.
  • Approximately $8 million to support public, education, and government television cable channels, including the Emmy Award-winning Seattle Channel.
  • Free cable television service to government and school facilities, valued at more than $2 million.
  • Discounted basic cable television service for low-income households.
  • Discounted Internet access through the Comcast Internet Essentials program for low-income seniors and households with a child enrolled in the free or reduced price school lunch program.
  • $500,000 in funding to support the City’s digital equity initiatives, with grants of $100,000 per year for five years.
  • A new partnership between the City and Comcast through which housing-insecure youth will be able to obtain devices, such as laptop computers, for accessing the Internet.

“I am thrilled to know we have leaders willing and ready to fight for digital equity in our City. CTAB heard from Seattle residents that providing affordable access for seniors and youth is a priority,” said Amy Hirotaka, chair of CTAB. “With this new Comcast franchise agreement, we can tell our community that we heard them, fought for them, and delivered. CTAB and the Broadband committee should be proud of the work done throughout this process.

Nourisha Wells, the outgoing chair of the City of Seattle’s Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB) noted the revised Comcast agreement is a step forward for the community. “Seattle is such a technologically advanced city it is easy to overlook the digital disparities in certain communities. This new Comcast agreement places our commitment to digital equity front and center and increases the ability of our seniors, youth, and low-income residents to benefit from, and help drive technical innovations for years to come.”

The approved Comcast franchise agreement will take effect on Jan. 21, 2016 and last a decade.

– See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/seattle-approves-revised-cable-franchise-agreement-with-comcast/#sthash.2gTgZ2QU.HkLG8Iiy.dpuf

Kessler Foundation invites applications for Signature Employment Grants

The Kessler Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities through discovery, innovation, demonstration, application, and dissemination.

To that end, the foundation is inviting Concept Applications from nonprofit organizations for its annual Signature Employment grants program, which supports new pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, or social ventures that lead to the generation of new ideas aimed at solving the unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities.

Grants of up to $500,000 over two years will be awarded to qualified pilot projects. Signature grants are not intended to fund project expansions or bring proven projects to new communities.

All interested candidates must submit an online concept application no later than March 18, 2016. Upon review, select candidates will be invited to submit a full proposal by July 1, 2016.

Any organization recognized as a tax-exempt entity under the Internal Revenue Code may apply. This includes nonprofit agencies, public or private schools, and public institutions such as universities and government agencies (state, local, federal) based in the United States or any of its territories.

Link to complete RFP

Deadline: March 18, 2016 (Concept Papers)

Microsoft expands digital inclusion commitment

Microsoft President Brad Smith announced a new global effort by the company to address the technology divide and establishment of a new Microsoft Philanthropies group to achieve this. Corporate Vice-President Mary Snapp will be leading Microsoft Philanthropies, with Lori Forte Harnick, as chief operating officer. This new effort builds on 30-plus years of work by Microsoft to help close the digital divide. The new initiative support for digital inclusion programs and partnerships, using investments of cash and technology, the technical talents of employees, their commitment to creative and collaborative partnerships, and the reach and scale of Microsoft’s brand and voice.  Learn more on the Microsoft Blog.

New Civic Technology Advocate Candace Faber

pic1The City of Seattle recently announced the creation of the Civic Technology Advocate position, and the selection of Candace Faber to fill this role.

In this new role, Faber will work with area technologists to increase use of the City’s open data platform, make connections into City departments to increase knowledge of business processes and opportunities, and encourage the development of new technology solutions that improve Seattle’s quality of life and further connect the public with their municipal government.

Faber brings extensive experience organizing Seattle’s civic technology community and the broader open data movement. She has led efforts including as Hack the Commute, the City’s 2015 transportation hackathon program, Hack to End Homelessness, and the Washington Technology Industry Association’s FullConTech. As the government-community liaison for Open Seattle, she worked closely with Seattle’s open data program, local technology firms, and the developer community. She will continue and expand this work in her new role.

Previously, Candace was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, serving at the U.S. embassies in Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Afghanistan, and on the global e-Diplomacy team. Candace holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Washington.

Mayors support FCC proposal on low income broadband

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has joined mayors and city officials from across the country to support the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to improve internet access for low-income families through the federal Lifeline program.

“Lifeline modernization will benefit our community members and help us tackle the pressing but rewarding challenges of local governance,” the 44 mayors wrote to the FCC. “Getting more low-income households online will help modernize delivery of public services. Most importantly, Lifeline modernization will help our school children and give them better opportunities to succeed.”

The letter was coordinated by Next Century Cities, a nonprofit membership organization of mayors and other elected city leaders working to ensure fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access for all of their residents.

“Since its inception, the Lifeline program has helped millions of American families have access to critical telecommunications services,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “These 44 Next Century Cities mayors and city leaders hope to bring the Lifeline program into the 21st century by including the essential broadband infrastructure that so many of their residents rely on today.”

In the letter, city leaders encouraged the FCC to ratify the proposal to modernize the Lifeline program, stressing the need to put broadband in reach for low-income families in order to enhance education, civic engagement, and economic opportunity. The mayors’ letter also specified principles they support in a Lifeline proposal, including a portable benefit that promotes competition and a budget-neutral approach to Lifeline modernization.        

– See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/mayors-support-fcc-proposal-on-broadband-access-for-lower-income-families/#sthash.Y1KtheVa.IykBfxqd.dpuf

If I upgrade my device it would be faster?

This is the most considered question when upgrading:  If I upgrade my device, will it be faster?  My professional answer is maybe.  There are many factors to consider when you do upgrade any software/firmware.

If you are upgrading to fix a bug in the system, then there is a chance that doing so will improve your use but if you are upgrading to a new version of an operating system or firmware, your system may become slower.

Most software/firmware will improve on new devices (normally manufactured within the last year) but anything older than that most likely will slow the device down.

Unless there is an annoying bug in the current version of the device or you are instructed to upgrade due to some security reason, I would wait.

Recommendations

  • Make sure the device you are using has been manufactured in the past year.
  • Back up your files.  Some devices require you to restore back to the original state of the system,  from the time when you bought it.
  • Note everything for the first week: speed, bugs, etc.
  • If you have the resources, get the system with the upgrade already in place.

Closing the broadband access gap in American cities

The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the National League of Cities hosted an event titled, “Broadband opportunity: boosting uptake in America’s cities and metropolitan areas”. A recording of this event, featuring a moderated conversation with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and a panel discussion with city officials including Seattle Chief Technology Officer Michael Mattmiller, is available on the Brookings’ TechTank blog.