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Phone Stolen? How to Erase Your Data Remotely

Do you store confidential, personal information on your smartphone? How about friends and family members’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses? Replacing a lost or stolen handset is fairly easy, but the data on it is the important part. Keeping this data from falling into the wrong hands should be a top priority if you are ever a victim of phone loss or theft.

Maybe you’re thinking a thief wouldn’t care much about your personal address book. Maybe not—but what about online banking passwords, credit card information or VPN access you have stored in the Internet cache on your Blackberry or iPhone? Most of the big names in smartphones today provide a kill switch, or “remote wipe” ability for their devices to remotely erase this sensitive data in the case of loss or theft. Of course, you’ll need to activate this kill switch as quickly as possible, before the battery dies, signal is lost or the thief gets any data.

Apple iPhone

You may already be using Apple’s MobileMe service, a $99/year syncing program to push e-mail, contacts and calendar entries from a Mac to your iPhone. To remote-wipe using this service, go to Account> Find My iPhone> Remote Wipe. You can also have the phone display a message such as “please call John at 269-899-1234 if found.”

Palm Pre

Palm Pre’s Erase Device feature is free, part of the Palm Profile you set up when you first activated the handset. To use it, pull up palm.com/palmprofile, enter the e-mail address and password you set up for your profile and select Erase Device.

Blackberry OS

For individuals using Blackberries (BIS), try the $9.95 Roblock for Blackberry 2.0. This application offers remote lock and device wipe, GPS tracking and will even recover lost contacts.

Android OS

If you have one of the new Android smartphones, check out SMobile Anti-Theft for Android, a $19.95 app featuring GPS location and remote wipe services. This app also offers the option to erase SD card data.

Windows Mobile

Another free service, Microsoft’s beta app My Phone (for any Windows Mobile 6.0 smartphone) gives users the ability to locate lost devices through GPS and erase data remotely, as well as back up contacts, photos, messages and calendar entries to Microsoft’s storage cloud.

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