Avast Academy Security Security Tips How to Find a Lost or Stolen Android Phone

How to Find a Lost or Stolen Android Phone

Losing your phone can be an overwhelming experience. But don’t panic — learn how Google’s phone finder can track your Android phone’s location through your Google account, and how Samsung’s find my phone app works with your Samsung account. Then, protect your phone and your personal data from the array of today’s digital threats with an award-winning cybersecurity app like Avast One.

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Written by Domenic Molinaro
Published on December 22, 2022

How do I find an Android phone?

To locate an Android phone, go to Find My Device and sign in to your Google Account. Select the phone you want to locate, then check the map to find your phone through its location settings. From there, you can make your phone ring, secure the device, or erase your phone’s data.

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    But before you can find your phone, you need to enable Find My Device by going to Settings > Security > Find My Device (sometimes called Find My Mobile or Find My Phone). Toggle on Find My Device. Then, turn on location tracking via Settings > Location. Or, swipe down from the top of your Android screen and tap the Location icon.

    Here’s how to find your phone using Google’s Find My Device:

    Sign in to your Google Account

    To use the Find My Device feature on Android, you need to sign in to your Google Account online and on your phone. Then to actually find your phone, your location tracking through Android Settings must be enabled before your phone is lost or stolen.

    Here’s how to sign in to your Google Account and find your phone.

    1. Go to Find My Device.

    2. Click the Account icon in the top-right corner of the browser window and sign in to your Google Account.

      Highlighting the account icon in Google's Find My Device web portal.

    Samsung users have a similar feature called Find My Mobile to find an Android phone. To use this phone finder, you need to sign in to your Samsung Account before the phone is lost or stolen. Like with Google’s Find My Device feature, only the main account can access Find My Mobile online.

    See your phone’s location

    Location tracking tracks your phone through its GPS. And although the location may not be 100% accurate, it’ll give you an approximate location to help you find your phone if you left it at home, work, or a friend’s place.

    Here’s how to see your phone’s location online after signing in to your Google Account here.

    1. Select the phone that you’ve lost in the top-left corner. The refresh icon (circular arrow) refreshes the location tracking.

      Select the lost device at google.com/android/find to start tracking an Android phone.
    2. On the map to the right, your phone’s approximate location is circled. Zoom to see a more precise location. If Google can’t find where your phone is currently, it will show you the phone’s last known location.

      Google Find My Device shows you a lost Android's current or last known location.

    Both Samsung’s Find My Mobile and Google’s Find My Device features need your phone to be on to work. If your phone is off, you can only see your phone’s last known location.

    And, don’t forget that misbehaving apps know how to track your phone too. See how to use Android app permissions safely to stop phone trackers from snooping on your activity.

    Play the Android sound function

    If you still can’t find your phone and the map doesn’t help, you can make your phone ring instead. The Play Sound function forces your device to play a sound for five minutes, even if the ringer is on silent.

    Here’s how to track your phone through sound from the Find My Device website:

    1. In the left panel, click Play Sound. The phone will start ringing.

      Highlighting the PLAY SOUND option in Google Find My Device
    2. After you find your phone, press the phone’s power button to stop the ringing. You can also press Stop Ringing on the Find My Device web page.

      Highlighting STOP RINGING under the PLAY SOUND option in Find My Device

    Google Home also works as a phone tracker. After every member links their voice to their respective Google Account with Voice Match, anyone can say “OK Google, find my phone” to play a sound and track their cell phone.

    The lost device must be logged in to the same speaker’s account and connected to the internet. Read up on how to build a smart home to see what shortcuts and smart features you can use daily.

    Secure your device

    If you can’t find your phone through GPS or sound, you can at least secure its data with the Secure Device option. This signs you out of your Google Account on the device, keeping your Google-protected data out of a stranger’s hands.

    Here’s how to secure your device in Google’s Find My Device:

    1. Click Secure Device in the left panel of the Find My Device website.

      Highlighting the SECURE DEVICE option in Google Find My Device.
    2. If you don’t have a screen lock, you’ll need to set a password. Then, click Next.

      Setting a password for the screen lock under SECURE DEVICE in Google Find My Device

    Tell others that you lost your phone

    The Secure Device section of Find My Device also lets you display a message in case someone finds your phone and wants to return it.

    To display a message on your lost phone, click Secure Device in the left panel. Then, write a message and include a phone number or other method to reach you. Click Secure Device again to send the message to your phone.

    The Add message or phone number screen under SECURE DEVICE in Google Find My Device

    You will be logged out of your Google Account and your phone will be locked. The message will be displayed on the screen, but without allowing access to the device.

    Erase your device

    If you don’t think you’ll get your device back, or if you just want to be extra careful about the data on it, you can completely wipe your device. The Erase Device option performs a full factory reset on your phone. But, erasing your device includes erasing its location tracking, so you won’t be able to find your phone via GPS. And it’s an irreversible option.

    Here’s how to erase your device through Google’s Find My Device:

    1. In the left panel, click Erase Device.

       Highlighting ERASE DEVICE in Google Find My Device
    2. Click Erase Device again to confirm.

      The Erase device screen under ERASE DEVICE in Google Find My Device
    3. In the confirmation window, click Erase. This will permanently erase your device’s data.

      Highlighting the "Erase" option in the ERASE DEVICE confirmation window

    Find My Device by Google also blocks the phone's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity), so no one can use it within the same country’s networks. However, it’s still usable outside the country of origin.

    You may also want to erase your phone if you notice signs of phone hacking.

    How to find a lost or stolen phone with Avast Mobile Security

    If you’re worried that if you ever lose your phone you won’t be able to find it again, then you need a reliable security app that lets you track a lost phone. Avast Mobile Security has a built-in Anti-Theft suite that lets you find and control your phone remotely with very little setup.

    Here’s how to find a phone with Avast Mobile Security:

    1. Install free Avast Mobile Security on your Android phone.

    2. Enable Anti-Theft by tapping Menu (three lines icon) > Anti-Theft and following the on-screen instructions.

      In Avast Mobile Security, select Menu > Anti-Theft to set up security features that can help you find your phone.
    3. Once set up, you can customize specific features within Anti-Theft, such as enabling Lock and Sound, and writing a Lock screen message that will be displayed when you send a Lock command to your phone from your Avast Account.

      Define specific Anti-Theft feature behaviors in Avast Mobile Security that will help you find and track your phone.
    4. Open your Avast Account and sign in. Select Anti-Theft at the top of the web page and choose the phone you want to find.

    5. From the Anti-Theft portal, you can find your phone using the available commands.

    Here’s more information about what each command does:

    • Locate: Retrieve your device's current location, view its last known location, or track your device to monitor location changes. Select how frequently you receive information about your device’s location. Location Settings on your phone must be turned on.

    • Mark as Lost: Lock your device to ensure intruders can’t get in. This command also sounds a siren if you enabled it in Anti-Theft settings on your Android before the phone was lost or stolen.

    • Siren: Sounds an alarm so you can easily find your phone if you simply misplaced it. This turns your phone ringer to the highest volume automatically.

    • Lock: Block your device from intruders. If you customized a lock screen message before your phone was misplaced, this message will show on the screen.

    • Wipe: Erase your device’s data to ensure intruders can’t access your personal data. This is irreversible — we recommend using this command only if you’re sure you won’t get your phone back, or if your phone data is backed up.

    For full details on how to use each free Avast Anti-Theft command — and paid commands, such as Camera trap and Audio recording — read up on how to control an Android remotely via your Avast Account.

    Protect your data wherever your phone is

    No matter where your phone is — or who it’s with — make sure your data is protected from the wide array of digital threats. Avast One can block malicious apps, downloads, and phishing messages with its award-winning antivirus detection. It can also run automatic scans to find any other cyberthreats lurking in your storage. Protect your private data with Avast One, no matter where your device is.

    Protect your phone and secure your data with Avast One

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    Protect your phone and secure your data with Avast One

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    Security Tips
    Domenic Molinaro