Wondering where your stolen or lost iPhone has gone? Thanks to Activation Lock and Find My iPhone, Apple locks your devices on your Apple ID. This forces thieves to increasingly inventive ways to make the device usable (and salable) again.
Scammers Want You To Remove Activation Lock
It is not enough to just wipe an iPhone as the Activation Lock will persist even if the device undergoes a full software reset. To activate the device after a software reset, the associated Apple ID password must be entered. If this fails, the rightful owner can remove the device from their account using “Erase iPhone” followed by “Remove from Account” using the Find My iPhone feature on iCloud.com.
Removing the iPhone from “Find My” allows the device to be reactivated with a different Apple ID. A device not associated with an Apple ID is worth a lot more than a device, so if the rightful owner can be convinced to remove the activation lock, the thieves will benefit.
Tracking down the rightful owner of a lost or stolen iPhone isn’t difficult when the device is in Lost Mode. This allows the owner to leave a phone number or other method of contact so that anyone who finds the phone can return it to its rightful owner.
RELATED: What is “Lost Mode” on iPhone, iPad or Mac?
How the scam works
Scammers can send text messages (like this one) to the owners of lost or stolen devices, claiming that the iPhone was found alongside all the personal information it contained. It is claimed that photos, contacts, the contents of email and text messages, or even banking and other personal information are at risk.
The goal is to convince owners that the device must be properly wiped to protect this data, and to do that, they must have access to the device. They will instruct owners to remove the device from “Find My” on iCloud.com to protect data. In reality, it is highly unlikely that they will have access to this data.
Assuming the device has a unique passcode that is not easy to guess, the chances of this data being available to anyone in possession of the phone is slim. All thieves want is for you to remotely remove the device from your Apple ID so they can use it themselves.
like you not done secure your device with a unique passcode, thieves will likely send you images or screenshots to prove they have your device. In this case, you can sign in to iCloud.com with your Apple ID and remotely wipe your device (without removing the Activation Lock). It’s a good idea to do this anyway, especially if you have an iCloud backup that you can restore from.
RELATED: Use a more secure iPhone passcode
Try not to worry about a long lost iPhone
While the loss of an expensive gadget stings, Apple’s security measures are quite robust. Get used to using a unique six-digit (or larger) passcode so that in the worst case scenario, thieves are left with an expensive paperweight. Above all, don’t be fooled by people trying to convince you to disable Activation Lock by remotely removing the device from your Apple ID.
On the topic of lost iPhones, here’s what to do if you find someone’s lost device.