How to Track a Stolen T-Mobile Phone Using the Internet
By Amanda Knaebel
Updated August 29, 2017
Your phone is likely one of the most expensive things you carry with you every day. Further, if it winds up getting stolen, it’s not just the monetary cost of the device at stake – it’s all of your personal information and data, as well. Many apps and services are able to pinpoint the location of your phone, however, and some allow you to remotely lock or erase your device completely if you think it's gone for good. Most smartphones have tracking options, and if you installed a third-party tracking app or purchased a device protection plan from T-Mobile, you likely have even more options to find your phone’s location.
McAfee and Lookout Location Services
T-Mobile offers several device protection plans to customers, and several include software to help you find your phone if it’s lost or stolen. If you have the JUMP! or Premium Device Protection plan with T-Mobile, you have access to Lookout Mobile Security Premium on your phone. You’ll need to have created an account in the Lookout app prior to your phone getting stolen to be able to use the location service. Log in to your Lookout account at lookout.com and click on the “Locate My Device” button to see a map showing your phone’s location.
You can select “Scream,” “Lock,” or “Wipe” from the location screen as well. The Scream option sounds an alarm on your phone and is more useful if you’ve misplaced your phone and need to find it. The Lock option allows you to enter a custom message, and the thief won’t be able to get into your phone at all. Wipe permanently erases all your data, so use it only as a last resort. Lookout Premium also includes Theft Alert. If you activated this service, Lookout will email you a photo of the thief and a map of the location of the phone at the time the photo was taken. You can customize Lookout Theft Alerts to trigger if your pass code is entered incorrectly, if someone turned your phone off, enabled Airplane Mode or removed your SIM card.
McAfee Security for T-Mobile, including McAfee ID Protection and McAfee Content Protection is available to customers who have purchased JUMP! Plus or Premium Device Protection Plus. If you activated your McAfee Security account on your phone, log in using your email or mobile number at mcafeemobilesecurity.com to view your phone’s location. Like Lookout, McAfee has options to sound an alarm on your phone, erase it or lock it remotely.
If you have another cellphone you can use, you can have McAfee text you a link to track your phone’s location or even lock or erase your phone remotely by sending a text message. Text “Secure Locate” followed by your McAfee PIN to your mobile number to get a link to track your phone’s location. Texting “Secure Lock” followed by your PIN to your phone number remotely locks your device and “Secure Wipe” with your PIN erases it completely.
Find My iPhone
If you use an iPhone, Apple’s Find My iPhone service can help you locate your stolen phone. Find My iPhone is a free service and is turned on by default when you sign in to iCloud on your iPhone – so even if you don’t remember setting it up, it’s worth checking to see if you had the feature enabled. Log in to icloud.com/find with your Apple ID and password. Select your iPhone from the “All Devices” list at the top of the screen.
Find My iPhone shows you the last location of your phone, and you can choose to erase it remotely. Putting your phone into Lost Mode allows you to lock your phone remotely and add a custom message. Apple Pay can’t be used from Lost Mode either, so your credit and debit cards will be safe from unauthorized purchases from your phone.
Tracking an Android Phone
If you use an Android phone, the built-in Find My Device feature (formerly called Android Device Manager) can help you locate it. Like most tracking services, you’ll need to have turned Find My Device on and signed into your phone with your Google account before it went missing to be able to find it. Sign in with your Google account at android.com/find and click on your phone at the top of the screen to see the current or last location. Find My Device also has options to force your phone to ring, lock your phone or permanently erase it remotely.
Google tracks your Android phone’s location by default when you’re signed into your account on your phone and have location services turned on. It saves your location history to your Google Timeline, so you may be able to track your missing phone using that data. Sign in to Google Maps at maps.google.com, click on the menu icon and choose “Your timeline” to see your location history.
If you use a Samsung Android device, you can use Samsung’s Find My Mobile service. Samsung device owners who register a Samsung account on their phones have the “Remote controls” option turned on by default, which is how you track your phone with Find My Mobile. To use the service, log in to findmymobile.samsung.com with your Samsung account information. Like similar services, Find My Mobile also includes options to remotely lock and erase your phone.
Other Tracking Apps
Many independent app developers also make tracking apps for the iOS App Store and Android's Google Play, including Family Locator, Cerberus Anti Theft, GPS Locator and Lost Android. If you downloaded and used one of those apps on your phone before it was stolen, go to the app's website and look for a place to sign in with the name and password you used with the app to track your phone.
Apps designed to help you keep track of family members and friends can also help if you allowed a friend or family member access to your location through an app before your phone was stolen. T-Mobile has its own locator app called FamilyWhere, but it’s available only for Android phones. Access to FamilyWhere is a separate paid service, but if you purchased it through T-Mobile, log in to your My T-Mobile account and click on Profile > Family Controls > Manage to select your mobile number and track its location.
Some third-party location apps, like Family Locator, also include a service to share your location with others, providing another way to track your phone from a friend's or family members’ devices if you shared your location with them.
iPhones running iOS 8 or higher can run Apple’s Find My Friends app. You’ll receive a message when someone asks you to share your location. If you approved one of these requests, try asking your friend to see if they can locate your phone’s whereabouts through the Find My Friends app.
Tracking a Regular Cellphone
If you don’t use a smartphone, you may still be able to locate and track your phone. If your phone has a GPS chip in it and you have a plan through AccuTracking, log in to AccuTracking’s website and see your phone’s GPS data. AccuTracking can also provide you with the nearest cell tower location if it can’t read the GPS location of your phone. If you didn’t have a tracking plan through AccuTracking or another service on your phone before it was stolen, you likely won’t be able to track it, although providers are sometimes able to provide location data to law enforcement if your stolen phone is part of an investigation. Make sure to call T-Mobile to suspend your service so no one can make or receive calls or texts on your stolen phone.
- T-Mobile: Compare Protection Plans
- McAfee for Consumer: How to Download and Install Mobile Security for Android and iOS
- T-Mobile: McAfee Mobile Security
- Intel Security: McAfee Mobile Security
- Bell: How to Lock My Device With McAfee Mobile Security
- Apple: If Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch is Lost or Stolen
- AndroidCentral: How to Find Your Lost Android Phone
- Google: Find, Lock, or Erase a Lost Android Device
- AdAware: Lost Your Android Phone? Four Ways Google Can Help
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile FamilyWhere App
- Apple: About Find My Friends
- Cnet: Four Ways to Share Your Exact Location With Family (and Why)
- Digital Trends: Find Your Phone With These Helpful Tracking Tips
- AccuTracking: Features
- In all cases, report your phone as lost or stolen to T-Mobile as soon as you become aware of it. If you don't, you may be held financially responsible for any calls, data use or app purchases made on it. T-Mobile will freeze service if you report a loss or theft and then will reactivate the phone if you later regain it.
Amanda Knaebel is a self-professed gadget geek and loves all things tech, both new and old. Amanda has been working as a freelance writer for over 10 years on topics including technology, health, fitness, nutrition, gardening and many more. She has also worked with Fortune 50 tech and financial companies, both in technical support and content production.