Losing your iPhone, whether accidentally or through theft, can be quite a stressful experience, especially if you’re someone who has their whole life on their phone. In this day and age, it’s common to have your email, business plans, finances, family photos, and more private documents on your handheld device.

It can therefore, be scary to have your device fall into the wrong hands, where your data may be misused or used for malicious purposes. Luckily, there are many ways to recover your stolen device, such as using Find My iPhone and iCloud. However, these methods aren’t full proof and sometimes you may not be able to recover your lost or stolen device. Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily put your data at risk. There’s a way to block your iPhone using the IMEI number.

IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity and is a unique number given to every mobile device. If your device is lost or stolen, you can report it, which will then mark your IMEI number as invalid. This will not only protect your sensitive data, but you also won’t incur any fees for calls or transactions carried out by the thief.

However, if you bought a used phone you may have some trouble blocking your phone, without explicit proof that the device was yours. Usually just a receipt isn’t sufficient to prove this. The proof must be unambiguous. This is due to the fact that when a phone’s IMEI number is declared invalid, the device will no longer work under any circumstance, even if a new SIM is installed.

Due to the severity of the consequences, it’s best to only block your iPhone using the IMEI number if you’re certain you won’t be able to retrieve the device again. In order to block a stolen iPhone using the IMEI number, follow the instructions below.

Find Out Your iPhones IMEI Number

1. Open the Phone application on your iPhone that you use to make phone calls.

2. Dial *#06# and your 15 digit IMEI number will appear on the screen.

Take note of your IMEI number and record it in a safe location. If you own an iPhone, you can find your IMEI number printed on the back of your device as well. Usually you will also be able to figure out the IMEI number through your Settings application by following the steps below,

1. Open the Settings application on your phone.

Click General

2. Click General.

Click About

3. Click About.

4. Scroll down until you see your IMEI number.

Report Your Phone as Lost or Stolen

  1. Once you’re sure you won’t be able to retrieve your phone, call your service provider.
  2. Inform the operator that your device is no longer in your hands and that you would like to block it using the IMEI number you have saved.

It’s that simple. You have now successfully blocked your phone from malicious users who may compromise your data, or try to resell your phone. This process tends to only be complicated if you didn’t initially purchase your phone directly from a service provider. If this is the case, though you won’t be able to block use of your phone, you can still remotely erase all of your data using Find My iPhone.

If your phone is later found, you can restore your data using backup. This is one of the many reasons why it’s imperative to always backup your device. You can also report your device as lost or stolen using the IMEI number on a blacklist website, which contains an online database of stolen or lost devices. It’s best to do this if you’re having trouble reporting the device as stolen to your service provider.

By reporting the device as stolen online, it will be much more difficult for thieves to resell your phone. If you ever consider buying a device from a secondhand service, it’s best to use this website then as well, to confirm that the item being sold to you isn’t lost or stolen. Along with doing all this, you should also file a police report for your stolen device. Even if your phone isn’t returned to you, by carrying out the steps above you’ll ensure that those who stole the device will have a very difficult time putting it to any use.