Lost Your Phone in China? Here's What You Should Do First

By Jocelyn Richards, January 23, 2017

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Everyone’s experienced it: you reach into your pocket to grab your phone and feel... nothing. Panic sets in. And then you remember you’re in China and can only confidently articulate how badly you want that next pijiu. Great.

Before you order another round though, here’s what you should do first:

1. Find a friend (or a stranger that looks friendly)

Borrow a friend’s phone or find someone patient enough to help you make a call. Or three. 

2. Call your mobile service provider and report your phone number

China Telecom: 10000

China Mobile: 10086

China Unicom: 10010

Tell them you’ve lost your phone and request to temporarily suspend service to your mobile number. If someone has stolen your phone and is currently trying to purchase cat furniture on Taobao, he won’t receive any text message confirmation codes and will have a harder time accessing mobile payment accounts linked to your phone number.

3. Call your bank(s) and suspend your mobile banking service

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC): 95588

Agricultural Bank of China (ABC): 95599

Bank of China (BOC): 95566

China Construction Bank (CCB): 95533

Bank of Communications (BoCom): 95559

China Merchants Bank (CMB): 95555

China CITIC Bank (CNCB): 95558

China Everbright Bank (CEB): 95595

China Minsheng Bank (CMBC): 95568

China Guangfa Bank (CGB): 95508

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPDB): 95528

Huaxia Bank (HXB): 95577

Most banks have representatives who can speak English. Ask them to temporarily freeze your mobile banking service. This should also suspend access to debit cards linked to WeChat wallet and Alipay, but inquire just to be sure (or follow steps 4 and 5 as a precaution).

4. Freeze your Alipay account

Call 95188 to temporarily freeze your Alipay account. This may require a friend that speaks awesome Chinese.

5. Freeze your WeChat account (only possible if you also have a QQ account)

You’ll need a computer and someone else’s phone with the QQ app for this step. 

First, sign into your QQ account on your friend’s phone. Then, using a computer, go to 110.qq.com and click the green button on the left 冻结微信 (freeze WeChat) and then select 冻结账号 (freeze account). Sign in using your WeChat ID (which is usually the same as your phone number) and enter the code below. Breathe, you’re halfway there.

Select the option on the right, 通过绑定的QQ号冻结, (freeze via binding QQ number). Open QQ and scan the QR code on your computer. Select the upper blue button to confirm on the phone and then on your computer choose 冻结帐号 (freeze account). You’ll then need to update your QQ password to successfully freeze your WeChat account.

6. Update ALL of your passwords

This is important, as one compromised account could lead to more hacking and potentially identity theft (especially if all of your passwords are ‘password’). Use a computer and reset your passwords to online banking accounts, Gmail, WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

7. Locate your phone using retrieval technology

If you have an Android, try using Android Device Manager, which is built directly into your smartphone through Google Play Services. If it’s an iPhone you’re missing, use the Find My iPhone app, which comes pre-installed on every iOS device.

8. Get a new SIM card

Head to your mobile service provider’s local branch and see if they can recover any data linked to your previous phone number. 

Finally, if you know exactly who stole your phone or precisely when and where it was taken, you can consider calling the police (110) to report it. If you’re lucky, they’ll invite you into their office and let you view security footage taken earlier that day. If you’re less lucky, however, they’ll just tell you to bite the bullet and buy a new phone (which is actually our final piece of advice as well). Good luck!

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