Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
If your phone or laptop goes missing, there are a variety of free apps that will help you locate it.
Recently, I found somebody’s iPhone in the parking lot of a doctor’s office. It had no identifying info about the owner on the outside, of course. So I started playing detective, which was very easy because the iPhone was not password protected.
I scrolled through the contacts and called around until I found somebody who could help me get the iPhone to the woman who was the owner. But it occurred to me, boy, that woman could have been in trouble if I were a criminal who found the smartphone, because I had access to all her information.
Since telling this story on the air, I heard from a lot of people about all the different apps that are available to help protect you if you lose your smartphone, laptop or tablet.
Then, lo and behold, technology writer David Pogue detailed his saga of losing his iPhone and using an app to help recover it in his New York Times column.
Pogue used the built-in Find My iPhone service for Apple iOS. There’s also a similar free service called Where’s My Droid available through Google Play for Android. Plan B is another free one for Android, and the only one to my knowledge that can be remotely installed on a smartphone after you’ve lost it.
Years ago, one of my in-laws had a laptop stolen at baggage claim. This was back in the day when laptops were a fortune; hers was an employer-provided one valued at $5,000. But the employer wasn’t concerned at all about the monetary loss. All they cared about was the corporate info on that laptop.
In my case, nothing on my laptop is worth stealing. Plus, I tend to travel with a cheap one so nobody would want it anyway.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.