Phones have evolved from a simple device that lets you connect with people far away, to an all-in-one device that replaces many other gadgets into one pocketable form-factor. We can store messages, contacts, photos, videos, documents, etc. into our smartphones, or run a whole business with its help. As a result, losing it will turn out to be quite a disaster. But don’t lose hope just yet. With a few steps here and there, you may be able to find or track your lost or stolen phone in Nepal. “May” being the keyword here as there cannot be a 100% guarantee that you’re gonna find or recover your lost/stolen phone; even with all the necessary documents and all. With that out of the way, let’s see what you can do about it.
Before actually looking into the necessary steps to find a lost phone, there are a few techniques to strengthen the chances of recovery. In other words, some of the following approaches are preventive ones; and not something you can do after the device is no longer in your possession.
1. IMEI Registration
IMEI registration is one of the fundamental ways to ensure your phone’s safety in regards to theft. Short for “International Mobile Equipment Identity”, it is a 15-digit unique identifying number of a phone in a GSM or a WCDMA network. Similarly, CDMA phones have either MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) or ESN (Electronic Serial Number) instead of IMEI.
Chances are, your phone will have an IMEI number instead; as it’s the only standard in Nepal right now since CDMA is being discontinued. But hey, if you still have an old CDMA phone lying around and would like to register it, that’s entirely possible. To look up your device’s IMEI/MEID/ESN number, all you gotta do is dial *#06#. Or, this info is available under your phone’s “About” section inside the settings too. Similarly, you can find your phone’s IMEI information on the device’s box; and hopefully even on the purchase bill and warranty card as well.
The Role of NTA
Anyway, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is the one concerned with the registration of mobile handsets. You can visit this link to enroll your phone into NTA’s database. Remember to accurately fill in every detail; especially the IMEI number since the success of the process completely relies on it. After submitting it, you will receive an email saying that NTA has received the application; and has sent it to the related department. Once everything checks out, you’ll receive another email (usually within two weeks) saying your IMEI has been approved.
To check if your phone’s IMEI number(s) are actually in NTA’s database or not, follow this link. Now, while the registration is simple and all, it is void of any verification if the device you’re registering actually belongs to you or not. Not that an IMEI number is a common knowledge and anyone can easily find out yours, but still.
2. Securing Your Phone
Besides NTA, the security standard of your phone itself is vital against any future case of loss or theft. First off, always associate the device with an account depending upon the operating system. For instance, an Android phone should have a Google account while an iOS device should be paired with an Apple ID. But for some newer Huawei or Honor smartphones that don’t ship with Google’s suite of applications, you’ll need to create a Huawei ID instead.
While you’re at it, link the said account with your primary phone number. This is crucial for recovery and authentication processes. Along these, make sure the device is secured with a strong screen lock which can be a pin, password, pattern, fingerprint, or face unlock. Opting for a simple swipe-based unlock or none at all is terrible. It basically gives the freedom to alter your phone’s ownership to the thief; as s/he can easily replace the existing account with their own.
Lock Screen Message: A lifesaver!
There’s also one neat feature on Android phones where you can input a message on the lock screen. Disappointingly, most people either don’t know about this at all or keep rather cringe-inducing messages like “you don’t know my password lol”. This feature goes by different names under phones from different manufacturers but ultimately will be found inside the “Lock Screen” settings. For instance, it is labeled as “Lock Screen Message” in stock Android phones while Samsung calls it “Contact information”.
Here, you can type-in some helpful piece of info so that a good Samaritan can easily coordinate with you to return the device. Unfortunately, this feature is a little convoluted in iOS devices as the feature isn’t cooked into the system. But the easiest workaround against this is to apply a lock screen wallpaper with the desired messages edited into the image itself. You may also make use of third-party apps like “Hexnode” for this task.
Find or Track Your Lost or Stolen Phone in Nepal
Method #1: What you can do about it
Well, those were some things you could do before you lose the device. So, let’s take a look at who you can do to try and recover your lost phone. Save for the obvious try at calling the phone as soon as you realize it’s gone missing, the first thing to try is to locate the phone using remote access features of Android or iOS. Giving the benefit of doubt to the finder’s inability to contact you back, or the possible fact that you may have just misplaced the phone somewhere around you, this should be the first thing you try.
> Android phones
For Android owners, visit “google.com/android/find” on your PC or other phone and log-in using the Google account you had on the device you lost. Better yet, you can use the “Find My Device” app for an even seamless experience. Using this feature, you can view the last-seen address of your phone on Google Maps, its network status, and battery level. Interestingly, this page also shows you your phones’ IMEI number by clicking on the little information icon (with an ‘i’ inside a circle).
Provided that the phone is hooked up to the internet via mobile data or WiFi, it actually allows you to locate the device in real-time. Furthermore, the “Play Sound” option rings the phone’s default ringtone in max volume; no matter the current volume settings in the device. Similarly, you can have a message show up with the ability to call a certain number remotely as well under the “Secure Device” menu. Finally, when all hope seems lost, try erasing the contents of your phone; to make sure the thief can’t access it.
Mind you, all these procedures require an active connection to the internet on the lost phone, or else they won’t work; the only lead in your forthcoming investigation will be the “last seen” information. And this is common to every other platform too.
> Huawei phones (with HMS)
Likewise, even though newer Huawei and Honor smartphones run on Android OS, they are void of anything Google. On such phones, everything is replaced by a Huawei alternative instead. You can learn about this whole debacle by clicking here. Anyway, because they don’t have a Google account or anything, the aforementioned process won’t work on them.
But don’t worry. As I just said, there is a Huawei alternative. Go to “cloud.huawei.com” using a browser on your phone or PC, then proceed to login using the Huawei ID logged in on your lost Huawei phone. Navigate to the “Find My Phone” option. And the rest of the process is pretty similar to the one for a regular Android phone. You can ring the device, secure it, or erase everything in it. One thing to keep in mind here is that you must’ve had “Huawei Mobile Cloud” enabled under the phone’s settings in advance.
Let’s talk about iOS devices now. Like Huawei devices, you’re gonna have to set up “Find My” on your iPhone, Mac, iPad, or other devices early on; to be able to find a lost Apple device. Quick note, this is the amalgamation of two older features called “Find My iPhone” and “Find My Friends” on devices running iOS 12 or older, or macOS Mojave or older.
Moving on, sign in to “icloud.com/find” or use the “Find My” app on some other Apple device using your Apple ID. Here too, you can either play sound and mark the device as lost (which will remotely lock it with a passcode. Or display a custom message with an option to call a number appearing on the lock screen) or erase everything on it. Remember that once you choose the alternative to erase, retrying to track the device down won’t be possible.
Blocking the SIM
If none of these yield any result, the next immediate thing you gotta do is block your SIM. This is important in case the thief uses your number to conduct any illegal or unethical activities; it traces back to you leading to a whole another fiasco you wouldn’t want getting into. For this, contact your telecom service provider for more details.
Thankfully, you can take out another SIM card of the same number at a minimal fee; thus giving you the slightest bit of relief amidst the tragedy. Here, you’ll be required to visit the telco’s office with the citizenship of the person associated with the phone number as a proof of ownership.
Mobile Track/Block through NTA
Given that you have already registered your phone’s IMEI number(s) on NTA as I mentioned earlier, you can go to this NTA portal to apply for tracking or blocking the device. Once again, be sure to fill in the details with the utmost accuracy.
Now, NTA will work on the issue to find or track your lost or stolen phone in Nepal by coordinating with other concerned authorities; like the telecom service providers and Nepal Police. After this, if and when the phone is successfully tracked down, you’ll either receive a call or an email regarding further processes.
Method #2: How the police can help
A little more traditional and quite frankly a tedious way to find/track down your lost or stolen phone in Nepal is by visiting the local police station. For people in Kathmandu, the place to go would be the महानगरीय प्रहरी परिसर, टेकु, which is also the only one in the entire country to have a separate unit for lost/found mobiles. And for everyone else, you can visit the जिल्ला प्रहरी कार्यालय of your respective district. On top of this, try contacting the “Lost and Found Cell” hotline of the Metropolitan Police Division (100); if you are unable to make a personal visit anytime soon.
Before making your way down the police station, make sure you bring the proper documents. These include:
- Citizenship (original or photocopy)
- Bill of purchase | Warranty Card | Phone’s original box (only one)
To begin with, you’ll be required to fill up an application. This includes details like your name, phone’s make/model, and more importantly the IMEI number. By now, you may have already realized the importance of safekeeping this 15-digit identifier. It doesn’t matter if your lost phone was bought abroad. Until you have one of those three documents, it’ll do just fine.
A little tedious!
Under this, the police can begin their investigation after receiving approval from the court. Additionally, the frustrating thing about this process is the fact that the police can only do so much if the thief manages to activate a SIM card (maybe yours or a new one) on the stolen device. Well, NTA’s process is identical to this too so it’s understandable, I guess. As a result, frequent visit to the police station is in store. You’ll be prompted to revisit every 15 – 20 days incase any new development comes forward.
On top of this, Kathmandu Police also maintains a neat database of all the lost and found goods. If someone has handed your phone to the police or they have found it by themselves, the record will be there to see on this link. So, make sure you periodically check this site as well.
Also, if you’re someone who came across someone else’s phone and are looking to sell it for some quick bucks, don’t. A new law illegalizes this act of selling found devices. Therefore, the legal and moral thing would be to either try to return it to the original owner. Or submit it to the nearest police department.
Lessons to be learned
To conclude, it can be really difficult or really easy to find and track down your lost or stolen phone in Nepal. Here is a summary of things to implement beforehand to bolster the chances of successfully retrieving a lost device, and what to do next:
- Register your device’s IMEI number(s) into NTA
- Always link your phone with an email address (whose credential you remember or have safely stored somewhere else)
- Implement a strong screen lock option and make effective use of the “lock screen message” feature on your phone
- Use the “Find My Device” feature in the preliminary stage to locate your phone
- Hastily block the SIM card in case the above step doesn’t work
- Contact NTA & the police for additional help