IMEI code, PIN, PUK, remotely deleting your data from a friend’s phone or a PC… Here’s our stress-free guide to handling a lost smartphone or tablet.


If your mobile device was issued by your company

If you are also allowed to use it for personal calls, including during your holidays, contact the relevant department within your organisation and find out about:

  • Roaming charges (so you don’t run up astronomical phone bills for your company while you’re away). Roaming charges won’t be completely abolished until June 2017, although they’ll be limited from mid-2016.
  • Security procedures in the event of loss or theft
  • What do you if your SIM card is blocked.

If you use your device for both business and personal purposes and handle the contract yourself, the information below will be useful.

The IMEI code: to block a lost or stolen handset

This is a 15 or 17-digit number that is unique to each phone. You will need to give this number to your telecom provider so they can block your SIM card if your handset is lost or stolen.

  • How to get your IMEI code

It usually comes with the packaging of your phone and also features on your bills. However, if you don’t have the necessary paperwork with you, the easiest way to get this number is by dialling *#06# on your phone. The IMEI number will come up immediately. Make a note of it somewhere else than on your phone.

For tablets: IMEI and serial numbers are usually marked on the back of the device, or on a label on the box. Again, make a note of it and keep it somewhere safe.

PIN and PUK codes

The PIN (Personal Identification Number) is a 4-digit personal security code (the one you have to enter every time you switch your phone on). The default code is 0000 but you should change it as soon as possible by going into the security menu of your phone settings.

If you go away on holiday without your phone, make a note of your PIN code before you go: it’s amazing how a few weeks of relaxing on the beach can wipe your memory!

If you or a thief make three failed attempts to enter your PIN, your SIM card will be automatically blocked. This is where the PUK (Personal Unlock Key) code comes in handy: it enables you to reactivate your SIM card.

  • How to find your PUK code

Some operators provide this initially with the SIM card. If not, contact your telecom provider either on line or by telephone. You will be asked for your client code and/or bill.

Locating your mobile device: some useful apps

Most operators provide a service for locating lost or stolen handsets. It is recommended that you make sure you have this feature on your phone, or find out how to get it, as soon as possible. It basically involves downloading and configuring a location and security app or service: the apps are usually free from your phone’s app store, whereas telecom operators often charge for their services.

Remotely deleting your data

There are also a range of apps and online services to enable you to erase a lost device (provided you’ve downloaded the app or enabled the Share My Location feature).

  • Apple: this is done via your iCloud account, so you’ll need your Apple ID. The device will be erased immediately if it’s online. If it’s offline, the remote erase begins the next time it’s online.
  • Android: you can erase your devices via the Device Manager. Only the data stored on your Google account can be restored. Google stipulates that any data on the SD card might not be deleted.
  • Windows Phone: you can reset your device online via your Microsoft account.

In the event of loss or theft

1 – Contact your telecoms providers: they can block your SIM card and thereby prevent any fraudulent use. You will be asked for your telephone number, proof of ID and your client code.

2 – File a police report as soon as possible, including a description of your handset, and the serial and/or IMEI code.

Send a copy of the report to either your telecoms provider or insurance company.