Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lavie’s iPhone loss Mystery - Resolved

This past Monday, Lavie called me at work terribly upset after her first visit to our new doctor. (Another rant story for another day.)

Turns out the visit had gone very well and our new doctor meets Lavie’s approval. Yea!

Turns out that somewhere between leaving the practice and getting home, she discovered her iPhone was lost. Noo!

I immediately logged into the Apple “Find my Phone” app on my own iPhone at work, entered her information in, and saw her phone…kind of.

The phone showed up but it couldn’t be located on a map. Turned off perhaps? In a dead zone?

We both had tried calling it to no avail.

I used the option to send a message to the phone and have a finder call us when it was discovered.

Alas, at the end of the day no call and the phone still wasn’t showing up.

Lavie was convinced it was on its way across one of our borders, I wasn’t sure and figured it was at the bottom of the elevator shaft or kicked under one of those heavy examination table/cabinet combos.

The doctor’s office staff said they looked and didn’t see it.

The practice security desk was contacted and didn’t report it being turned in but made a note in their log just in case.

Lavie was still deeply upset with the lost. (She has never lost any mobile phone she has ever owned.)

I was so calm about the loss that contributed to Lavie’s freaking out worse.

So the following day we worked on damage control.

I called our cellular carrier who disabled the SIMM card/# for the phone to prevent any unauthorized phone calls on our account. The rep was very kind and helpful.  No the phone hadn’t been used since her last call that morning to me. No new data usage or activity was showing up.

The phone had both a passlock code set on it as well as the “Find My Phone” feature with iCloud enabled.

I logged back into the iCloud and set it to “auto-wipe”.  I was pretty confident we wouldn’t have any data leakage/breach from it (hence my calmness) but was still curious why it was “dead” in the iCloud.

Luckily, we still had Alvis’s old iPhone 4 as well. After her marriage, her husband had bought her a new iPhone 5s on their own account. Her old phone was on our account, and a few months away from the 2-year contract end, so I elected to keep in on rather than paying an ETF to remove it.

So Lavie just carried Alvis’s phone for the day until I got back off work and we could drop by the local AT&T storefront.

The AT&T rep was very helpful. He cut a new SIMM card (for free!) with Lavie’s cell # on it, then swapped out the SIMM from Alvis’s phone with the new one, also releasing the hold on Lavie’s cell #. Almost good to go. I hung on to Alvis’s SIMM card as it was still good.

Back home, I backed up Alvis’s phone in iTunes, copied off all the photos from it (she said he already had them but I wanted to be sure), then wiped the phone.

I then restored the last backup we had in iTunes for Lavie’s old phone to this one. It was from late December 2013 but it had most everything.

I did have to spend some time re-adding a few apps but not that big a deal. Two hours later Alvis’s old iPhone was now fully migrated to being Lavie’s phone.

Lastly, I checked Lavie’s iCloud account again, and now there were two “Lavie’s iPhone” objects listed. The new one I just finished setting up (with GPS locator hovering over our residence on the map active) and the old one…still not located and “dead” with wipe pending.

So…we were out one iPhone 4..with one to two months left on our contract…and that pretty much it.

Only guess what?

Thursday night the security desk at the practice called.

Lavie’s phone had been found…where they couldn’t say…but she was welcome to come pick it up at our convenience.

So Friday Lavie picked up her phone.

It was almost drained but very much still powered on.  It did say “No Service” as the SIMM had been disabled by our carrier but it connected to our Wi-Fi with nary an issue like a grinning tomcat dragging in after a long night of adventure.

And the phone didn’t wipe.


So today I figured out why the phone didn’t show up in iCloud, nor wipe itself as told.

First, Lavie recovered a few missing phone numbers out of her contacts that had been added since the original backup.

Then I got digging.

Going in the Settings and iCloud area, I could clearly see “Find my Phone” was switched on with a nice green indicator showing. What up iPhone?!!

Only there was a hazy semi-opaque haze to the page.

Lavie’s information was all present, but it appears she (we I) didn’t actually log back into iCloud on it after the last iOS 7 upgrade.

Once I did that, Bammo!  The phone wiped.

So, lessons learned from the experience:

  • Make sure your iPhone/iPad is pass-coded. A longer passcode option can be selected over the standard four digit one.
  • Set up Find my iPhone/iPad on your device. Correctly. iCloud: Set up Find My iPhone
  • Test iCloud - Find My iPhone, iPad to make sure it really is seeing and tracking your device!
  • If you carry a lot of passwords on your iPad/iPhone, be sure to keep them in a password manager app, not in Notes. MiniKeePass.
  • Back up your iPad or iPhone device in iTunes (or via iCloud if that is  your thing) regularly. Like every week or so to capture Contacts changes and stuff.
  • If you do loose your device, set the call-back message if found in iCloud.
  • Call your mobile carrier and suspend your number just to be safe you don’t end up with any unauthorized calls.
  • If in deep doubt you will find it again, set it to wipe.

More handy linkages:


--Claus V.

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