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Security & privacy

Good news! An amazing story about a lost phone from a listener in California

If you get into a panic when you simply misplace your smartphone for a few minutes, imagine the horror of losing it. You don’t just lose a phone, you lose information that’s very important to your life.

You lose the numbers of friends and family because, let’s face it, who bothers to memorize phone numbers anymore? You lose photos of important moments in your life. Worst of all, you may have lost important passwords to banks and credit card companies that could cost you money if hackers stole your phone.

Luckily, there are people out there like The Kim Komando Show listener Gary Sumner who will do whatever it takes to return your lost phone. Learn how he did it and what you can do to protect the information on your phone if you lose it.

Hiker finds Andriod on ski slope

Earlier this month, Sumner went on an overnight hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. His journey started at the Sugar Bowl Resort in Norden, California. While climbing the slope, he found a phone lying on some rocks. It looked dirty but was otherwise in good shape.

“I pushed the power button and was surprised when it came on and said Samsung Galaxy S8+, and with an almost full battery,” Sumner said. “I was hoping to find some owner in it to return it, but it had been remotely wiped. It said to connect to a Wi-Fi to set it up, but since no Wi-Fi was around, I just put it in my pocket, then my backpack until I got home.”

When he returned to his home in Nevada City, California, Sumner set about trying to find the owner of the phone. After connecting to his home Wi-Fi he turned on the phone and was asked to enter a Google account and password to continue.

Since the phone had been wiped, it had been reset in a special way. The phone requested that the original email and password be entered to prove the person trying to get in was the actual owner. Sumner played a hunch and it worked

“Since I didn’t know what that was, I tapped on ‘Forgot email address,’ and when I did, a phone number came up,” Sumner said. “So I called the number.”

It turned out the man who answered had indeed lost his Galaxy S8+ four months earlier.  

“He was really surprised that it still worked and had a full battery,” Sumner said.

After getting the owner’s address in the Bay Area, Sumner boxed up the phone and mailed it to him.

Tip from Kim also helped a hiker

Ironically, on the same trip, the 73-year-old Sumner lost his phone when he slipped and slid down about 50 feet of snow. Without the phone, Sumner couldn’t check his hiking apps to see just how far off the trail he was.

He spent the next hour climbing back up the steep slope, all the while searching for his phone.

“I was starting to panic, praying a lot that I would find my phone, because, without it, I would have no way to find my way back to the car, which was about two-and-a-half miles away, and the trail was hidden by all that snow,” he said.

A Kim Komando Show devotee, Sumner had a SPOT Gen3 satellite tracker with him that Kim suggested solo hikers buy. He was close to pressing the tracker’s SOS button to summon rescuers when he found his phone.

Secure and find your lost phone

Not all of us may be lucky enough to have a Gary Sumner out there to return our phones if we lose them. But you can keep your information safe.

If you own an Andriod, download the Lost Android app. Here are some of the app’s features:

  • Locate by GPS network
  • Read sent and received SMS messages from your phone and send them to your email
  • Wipe your phone
  • Lock phone
  • Erase SD card
  • Start alarm with flashing screen
  • Send SMS (text) messages from a webpage
  • Forward calls

If you have an iPhone, you can use “Find My iPhone.” To check if the feature is enabled, tap Settings on your iPhone (or iPad) and then tap your account (with your name) in the upper left corner. Look for iCloud, then Find My iPhone and see that it’s enabled.

You can find it (as long as it’s powered on) by logging into using your Apple ID and password. It will show a map of the device’s last known location and give you options to choose from.

If you believe it’s been stolen, use the Erase option to wipe the device. If you get it back or get a replacement, you can restore your information — as long as you have a recent backup. Learn more about backing up your iPhone or iPad by clicking here.

Gadgets to stay safe while hiking

Kim’s advice that solo hikers get a SPOT Gen3 satellite tracker is only one gadget she recommends for those who like to travel through remote areas of the great outdoors.

It’s always smart to keep all your devices charged, even in areas where there’s no internet connection. One charging option for your mobile devices is solar power. The Dostyle 8000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank has 3 USB ports to charge three devices simultaneously. This useful gadget also has a built-in LED light that can be used as a flashlight when trekking through the dark.

Another safety device you’ll definitely want with you is the FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio. Among its many features are an LED flashlight w/zoom and SOS alarm. Additionally, it has three power sources, including a crank lever, solar and AAA batteries to ensure the radio is never out of power.

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