There are so many things you could write on your lock screen. In the case that your phone is just misplaced, anything you put with basic contact info is going to increase the chances of your phone finding its way back to you. But are some lock screen messages more effective than others? Sure. Let’s take a look at some of the elements required for the most effective lock screen messages.
Essential Return Elements
There are a few things that you need to have in that can help with the return of your smartphone. Tip: Don’t assume your device has been stolen vs. misplaced. Including the basics can make all of the difference.
- Alternate contact info- if you do not give this, the person who comes across your phone will be less likely to try to return it directly to you, and will have to go through more trouble to do so.
- If you don’t have an alternative phone number, give your email address.
- If you don’t want to do that, give a return address, PO Box number, or safe drop-off location.
The above elements are most effective with devices that have been lost or misplaced, but stolen phones are a different story. If your phone has been stolen, there is already a higher chance that it will not be returned, based on the intention of the thief. You may still be able to appeal to the person with a combination of of tactics.
Ethic of Reciprocity– the Golden Rule, one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. The elements of this moral code can be used to increase your phone’s chances of return. Here are a few things to try out:
- State upfront that you know they are a good person. I have seen this before on return messages for lost or stolen property. It creates a bond from the start, and makes even a thief stop to think for a moment before they ultimately decide what they are going to do. This gives you time to make a human connection with other message elements.
- Try asking what they would want someone to do if they had lost their phone. You can also switch it around to just assume that they would want it returned.
- Wish them a good day. A positive outlook and pay-it-forward attitude can go a long way, even with a thief. Understand that there are different types of thieves, and some can be swayed.
- A personal picture- this will help to create a moral human connection with the person who finds your phone. Studies show that devices found with a personal picture are more likely to be returned. Choose one of yourself with your family, pet, or kids. These elements create a connection that is harder to ignore.
Rewards– in most cases, a thief or otherwise would rather take the reward than have to deal with the messy process of cleansing stolen property. Here are a few tips for offering rewards-upon-return:
- Using phrases, like “suitable reward”, is enticing to the finder without locking you into some crazy amount of reward.
- Set your reward based on a few different factors. Keep in mind- the fee it would cost you to replace it with or without insurance, what you have available, whether or not you have insurance on the device, etc.
- Be careful. Set up a meeting in a public place and take only the money you agreed to award. Leave your wallet behind. The last thing you want is a stolen phone AND a mugging.
What’s Your Style?
There are many ways to include good lock screen messages, without losing your sense of customization and pride. Feel free to customize your lock screen messages, the same way you would normally customize your lock screen and background. Here are a few examples:
“You are a good person. If you lost your phone, wouldn’t you want it returned? I am offering a reward. Please call ___________ Or email __________. Have a nice day.”
“DID I LOSE MY PHONE AGAIN? Please return it, or my (spouse) will never let me hear the end of it. $50 Reward. Call (name) at _____________.”
“SUITABLE REWARD UPON RETURN- Please call ___________ or email ____________. Thank you.”
“Hello. You can help make a bad day a little better by helping my phone make it back to me. Please call _______________. Talk to you soon.”
“DO THE RIGHT THING: Return to: (postal address, PO Box, or safe drop-off place).”
“This phone belongs to a nerd. This jail broken phone is running an app that constantly sends your location and picture to my server. Please return to ____________.”
Have Fun with It (Or, What Not to Write. It’s Your Call)
“What would your mother say if you didn’t return my phone? (xxx) xxx-xxxx”
“CONGRATULATIONS: You’ve won $5000. Call (xxx) xxx-xxxx to claim your prize.
“This phone is cursed (make your lock screen picture from the movie, The Grudge). You shall die in 24 hours if not returned. Don’t believe me? Try it. (xxx) xxx-xxxx”
“Tracking Location… (Add some coordinates)
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have is a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my phone go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
Now that we have lightened up a little, it’s time to get serious again.
No Lock Screen?
If you don’t use the lock feature, there is still hope. Here are a few quick tips for people who neglect the lock screen:
- Try giving the phone a call. Leave a message something along the lines of “I think you found my phone, I’m offering a reward.”
- Use a translucent phone case and type the message out on a sheet of paper. Some people may also opt for the “half of a large bill” option.
- Read up on some of the best tips for preventing smartphone theft.
- You also need to take certain measures to keep your data safe.
Other Security Measures
There are a few other things you need to consider when it comes to a device that is MIA.
- Enable all backup options and use cloud-based apps whenever possible. This will help with backup.
- Enable remote wiping, so that you can wipe sensitive data in the case that it is not going to be returned.
- Enable apps or software for tracking, but do not rely on this alone. Try a tracker, like Find My iPhone (Apple devices only), Webroot, or Prey. Some can even take pictures and email them to you with the GPS location.
- Write down your IMEI and other numbers for added security. This enables tracking even if the SIM card is replaced.
- Read up on safeguarding your personal data.
Whatever your style, just be safe. Protect your data, protect your ports, and help your devices get back to you with the most essential element of all: CONTACT INFO.