What to do if your Cell Phone gets Stolen/Lost

If you are a cell phone user then this is a must read for you. Mobile handset, due to its size, is quite easy to misplace, loose or to be nicked by a passer-by. Hence one must be prepared for such a situation. This article explains the procedure of recovering lost/stolen mobile phone and also the concept of IMEI number.

Some time ago there was a great hue and cry over banning of Chinese cell phones in India. But only a few of us would have wondered why exactly such a step was taken by the Government. The answer to the question is IMEI number.

The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is an international identity number used to uniquely identify a mobile phone handset. It is a 15 digit number which serves as a digital finger print. It is transmitted every time the phone is used revealing the identity of the mobile handset. The IMEI number is usually written underneath the battery/the back of the handset, or else you can find it out by dialing *#06# on your mobile. Mobile owners should make a note of their IMEI number and keep it in a safe place since it comes handy in tracking a lost/stolen mobile.

The Chinese handsets that were imported by India did not have the IMEI numbers. This posed threat to national security since the identity of such handsets could not be traced and there was a strong possibilty that these handsets were being used by terrorists.

The process of tracking a lost/stolen mobile phone is as follows:

Firstly, you must lodge an FIR in the nearest police station giving details of the incident. FIR is lodged only in the case of ‘Stolen phones’.  (In case of ‘lost’ cell phone, the police would note down the complaint on a simple paper and provide you with its copy after signing it. This signed complaint may be used instead of an FIR for further process.)

Take the copy of the FIR to your service provider (i.e. your sim-card’s company). You can go to an outlet authorized by the company. The service provider will lock the sim so that no one else can use the sim issued in your name.

In tracking the handset IMEI number is utmost essential. With the help of your IMEI number the service provider tracks the lost/stolen mobile handset and gives you the current location of your handset.

The follow-up is taken up by the police authorities.

If everything goes the way it should then definitely you will get back your lost/stolen handset!

By Nikita Anand on June 15, 2010 · Posted in Informative

29 Comments | Post Comment

Laxmikanth reddy says:

That's fine. But it is mentioned at the end that the service provider will track the stolen mobile. Which service provider? Looser's SIM service provider or Finder's(Theif's..?)SIM Service provider?

Posted on July 23rd, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

The looser's service provider puts the details about the stolen handset on a common database shared by all the service providers. Other service providers are supposed to co-operate in the tracing of the handset. But at the end its the looser's service provider which facilitates the search. I hope it satisfies your query.

Posted on July 24th, 2010

Hitesh Rawtani says:


I lost my Nokia phone today running on Loop(BPL Mobile). I registered an FIR, I have the IMEI number. But the Loop representatives say they cannot do anything about it but block the SIM and give me a new one. They said Nokia should help me trace the handset. And of course Nokia representatives said they can’t do anything about it. It’s the job of the police department. Can you suggest what should I try next or just accept that I can not get my handset back and move on.


Posted on May 20th, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

Hello Hitesh,
Since there is no way to force the corporations except persuasion, I have nothing to suggest you further.

Posted on May 22nd, 2011

Omprkash says:

Dear Sir/Madam,
I have lost my Fly mobile V-70, (Model- V 70)EMEI No.: 354130015507467 on dated -17th July-2010 and mobile no. 9958768779
Please help me it tracing it out.
Name : Om Prakash
Courent contact no.: 011-27894505
email Id : prakaashsinha@gmail.com

Kindly do the needful.
With regards,

Posted on August 4th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

First and foremost you must lodge a police complaint with regard to your lost mobile phone. The copy of the FIR should be taken to the service provider of your Phone. The further procedure to recover the phone will be taken up by them.
I hope you get back your phone soon.

Posted on August 4th, 2010

Suchitra.S says:

Madam, we had lost mobile set. We had filed FIR too. But the service provider( Airtel, for us) declined to track the stolen mobile set with the IMEI number. We ran from pillar to post but neither police nor service provider was of any help…We could only block the SIM… I would say, it is better option to get the mobile insured rather than tracking the lost set.

Posted on September 8th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Suchitra, You have had a really bad experience it seems. But I shall keep your advice in mind.

Posted on September 21st, 2010

Bharath Subramanian P says:

My friend lost his mobile yesterday in a bus. In the police station near our home, they did not want to take the case initially since it was not in their circle. After that, they refused to file a FIR since they wanted us to prove that it was stolen. When we reasoned out they started showing cold face and almost arm-twisted us to lodge a complaint as "the phone went missing in the bus". They also added that they get 50 mobile "missing" cases everyday and it is not high priority. But, this implies there are 50 felons encouraged due to their inaction. May i know how to proceed with this?

Posted on September 21st, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Sir, I must ask you.. What kind of 'Proceedings' you are looking for? You wish to move to the court against the police?
As far as those mobile thieves are concerned.. the only way to deal with them is either recover your phones or get your phone terminated with the help of IMEI Number. If more and more people opt for termination of handset those thieves will surely be discouraged. Because the stolen handset won't be of any use to them.

Posted on September 21st, 2010

Arman Sharma says:

I am a student, can I ask you for any type of legal advice?
Thank you.

Posted on October 5th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Dear Arman,
Yes, you can seek legal advice. I shall try to answer them to the best of my ability. Hoping to hear from you soon.

Posted on October 5th, 2010

ARUN says:

Dear nikita

i have also lost my mobile and it was traced also but there was not any response from police officials after reminding them regularly about my stolen phone.

i dont think that discontinuing the imei number will work because i heard that it can be replacable in some mobile markets

and yes offcourse i have the cell number of thief of my mobile. is there anybody who can help me to get my phone back

Posted on October 25th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

I am sorry to say but I am unable to offer any help in this regard.

Posted on October 25th, 2010

T. Malla says:

Is it possible to reset the IMEI number and change new IMEI number?

Posted on November 28th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

Mr. T. Malla,
As Far as my information goes IMEI cannot be changed. But you might get a better reply to the question if you put it on a technology blog.

Posted on December 6th, 2010

Amod says:

hi Nikita

i have file fir & block the SIM card but third condition told by you regarding
With the help of your IMEI number the service provider tracks the lost/stolen mobile handset and gives you the current location of your handset.

But service provider were not interested in doing that rather giving these service by saying that its not there job .they say all these will be done by police

Is there any legal way by which i can enforce these people to help me in these matter specially service provider so that next time i go to service provider they bound to help me

Posted on December 30th, 2010

Amod says:

is there is any provision in RTI Act regarding the same

Posted on December 30th, 2010

Nikita Anand says:

As far as my knowledge goes there is no provision in the RTI regarding the service providers. You will have to insist them to find to trace the phone by persuading them with the help of the copy of the FIR. If the don’t agree you can ask the police officer for assistance in persuading the service provider.

Posted on January 28th, 2011

Sang says:

hi Nikita i lost my phone and i happen to not have the IMEI no.,what do i do?

Posted on March 25th, 2011

Nikita Anand says:

I am sorry to disappoint you Sang, but tracing your phone will be very difficult in such a case.

Posted on March 30th, 2011

Kishore Sarkar says:

I’ve my phone and filed fir too in this regard too..
but the IMEI no. was not mentioned in the fir as well as in the bill from the dealer..I know this no. is also mentioned in the box too, but I’ve disposed the box too.
Now how can I ask the service provider to trace if he ask to prove the ownership of handset mentioned IMEI no…?

Posted on March 29th, 2011

shubham says:

dear nikita ma’am
i hav also lost my samsung mobile.if i follow as per as you sated above will it help to get my cell phone back rather than blocking the sim. and please also suggest will i be able to use the same sim again or i have to purchase another one.
thank you

Posted on April 5th, 2011

Jaydeep says:

is there any way the thief can make a misuse of our phone, once i blocked the sim . .

plz reply soon

Posted on May 1st, 2011

Ram says:

HI Nikita,
My Mobile is lost during train journey and I went to the respective police station to lodge FIR but they are refusing to file FIR. what shall I do? How can I get an FIR for my lost/Stolen mobile.

Ram Mohan

Posted on May 11th, 2011

Abhimanyu says:

Thanks. found this useful.

Posted on May 12th, 2011

A331709 says:

Hi Nikita

I have a question and perhaps your knowledge of the legal system will help. Technically, is it correct to say that while cell companies indeed have the ability and technology to triangulate and track a phone using the unique IMEI, by refusing to do this for an affected customer, they are in fact aiding and abetting a crime of this nature? The person committing the crime is encouraged by the lack of police and provider assistance and thus goes unchecked.

Does this prove reasonable grounds to pressurize these companies?

Thank you

Posted on June 13th, 2011

RTI Activist says:

Dear Ms.Nikita,

Thank you for the guidelines for what to do when you lose a mobile , but even today as you know our system does not work the way it should work, infact I know of a case when a person approached for filing a FIR for a lost mobile phone which was with his 12 year old son in the evening at around 9pm, which was registered in his name, they were sent back stating come back tomorrow with an affidavit that you have lost a mobile kind of an undertaking I think, but what happens incase some one misuse’s the mobile and a untoward incident happens, the person who has lost the mobile is held responsible legally and then the torture begins.

any suggestions for this, is there a guideline or a clause or a section under which the police station is supposed to mandatorily take a complaint or an FIR ?

Please oblige by replying the query as it will help a lot of people who are turned down by the police stations without filing a FIR.

Thank you

Posted on August 4th, 2011

swetha says:

Dear nikitha,
It was good to know abt the IMEI number but what if the person doesn’t know the imei number, is there any other way to know apart from the battery or handset???????
please reply!!!!!!!!

Posted on October 29th, 2011