One year ago, on May 4, 2022, I had a nightmare of a situation—my mobile phone was stolen!
If you are someone like me where a large part of his digital identity and information resides in a mobile phone then you would certainly relate.
We have become so attached to the convenience that digitalization and online transactions have given us that evil people have started to take advantage. This may have been happening for a long time and I may just not be aware but the danger of huge losses and identity theft is such a reality.
So what did I lose (temporarily and permanently) with my stolen mobile phone which was an iPhone 12? Here is a rundown:
The iPhone itself. Because my mind was swirling with the theft, I unwisely decided to go after the iPhone. When I got home, I can still the iPhone using Apple’s Find My Phone app. The last location was in a mall just 10 minutes away from our house. I foolishly decided to go to the mall to try to find the iPhone. I did not get it back and at the same time distracted me from doing the best thing in this situation, which comes next.
A fairly significant amount of our savings were lost because the thieves cracked the iPhone’s passcode security and quickly hacked into my BDO bank account. My biggest mistake was assuming that the iPhone’s passcode would be hard to bypass. It took the thieves less than an hour to break in. That false sense of security made me delay blocking my BDO bank account allowing these thieves to make a sizeable withdrawal because the OTPs (One Time Passwords) needed to reset the bank passcode go straight to the phone.
My Binance crypto wallet. Everything was taken. They left nothing. The thieves even deleted all activities related to my account. I would have to create a new account because of this. This is why you should have a physical crypto wallet.
My work and personal phone book. This terrified me a lot because there was a distinct possibility that I might get other people scammed.
Access to my Facebook account. During the first few hours of the theft, my FB account got traded between me and the thieves. I struggled with the thieves for a few hours until early morning before I was able to wrestle my account from them. But being confused, disoriented, and tired, I got the FB account blocked due to my own fault. It took me 40 days to reactivate it.
Access to my Gmail. I use this email address as a secondary address for authentication in the event that my primary email failed. This is also the account I use for my PayPal account. It did not take long to gain control because they were busy robbing me using my phone.
Access to my Apple ID. This was a biggie because as long as they had access to my Apple ID, they had access to my contacts, the photos stored in iCloud, Apple’s online storage platform, and most terrifyingly, my location. This is due to the fact that I had other Apple devices connected to my Apple ID like my office-issued laptop. It was a good thing that I was able to successfully reset the phone remotely through Apple’s Find My Phone app.
The level of anxiety and frustration that I experienced was the most I have ever had. It was a good thing that I believe in Jesus who takes care of me and my family.
I outlined these losses so that you may calculate the risk that you may have with the contents of your smartphone. Yes, online transactions are here to stay, but consider this advice given by a colleague: spread your wealth. This means not putting all your hard-earned money in one location or platform. You also need to take note of the security best practices for each.
The level of anxiety and frustration that I experienced was the most I have ever had. It was a good thing that I believe in Jesus who takes care of me and my family. I believe that my God was in control of everything and that the negative emotions I had were just proof that I did not completely trust Him. Of course, it would be understandable when you go through such a traumatic experience but the one thing I learned is that you should quickly return to God. Entrust everything to Him because He owns all creation and He can easily give me back what I have lost.
Today, over one year after, I believe that God has already returned what I lost. I have put this nightmare behind me and am so thankful for the support of my family and friends. They were always there comforting and giving advice. I am certainly blessed.
Image by master1305 on Freepik