If You Got Your iPhone Stolen, Chances Are That You Will Be A Target Of Phishing Or Threats…. Here’s How To Deal With That Unfortunate Situation

Thefts of iPhones have always been a problem. But what has made it less lucrative for thieves is a feature that Apple implemented years ago called Activation Lock. In short, the way Activation Lock works is that among other things, this feature locks the phone to you and your Apple ID so that if it is stolen, it cannot be reused by an unsuspecting buyer as they would need your Apple ID and the password associated with it to set it up as new.

Well thieves clearly have clued in on this and are trying to work around it so that they can flip stolen iPhones for cash. So now they’re resorting to phishing and threats to get your Apple ID and password. Here’s how the phishing part of this works:

  • Your iPhone gets stolen
  • Days or weeks later you get contacted by the thief with a phishing email or text that encourages you to enter your Apple ID and password to locate your phone.
  • If you’re not paying attention, you do that and now the thief has everything they need to set up your phone as new and sell it.

An example of this can be found in this India Today report that does an excellent job of laying out a real life example of this phishing exercise.

But lately I have heard of a new method of trying to get your Apple ID. The thief threatens you with the release of your personal information that’s on the stolen iPhone if you don’t hand over your Apple ID.

Here’s the facts on this. What the thief has done is erase the iPhone in an attempt to set it up as new. Thus your personal information is already gone which means that what they are saying is a total lie. The attempt to set it up as new failed because it is activation locked. So since the thief wants to flip the phone for some cash, they contact you to convince you via threats to give up your Apple ID.

Why are iPhone thieves resorting to these methods? The answer is that the iPhone is worth way less if the thief has to strip it for parts. And some of those parts are difficult to reuse because of the way Apple locks them to the phone. Therefore to maximize the cash that they can score from the theft of the phone, they have to keep it whole and it has to be fully functional. Which means that to make sure that the thief doesn’t get a good payday, you need to be on your toes if your phone is stolen and rebuff any attempt by someone to get you to hand over your Apple ID. That means ignoring any emails or text messages either encouraging you or threatening you in any way if you don’t release your Apple ID.

So what should you do if your iPhone is stolen? Apple has some tips on that you should follow if this happens to you. And this advice is also largely true for iPads and Apple Watches as well as newer MacBooks as they have the Activation Lock feature as well. Which means that while you’re the unfortunate victim of a theft, as long as you follow this advice and don’t hand over your Apple ID to the thief, you’re not going to give the thief a good payday.

2 Responses to “If You Got Your iPhone Stolen, Chances Are That You Will Be A Target Of Phishing Or Threats…. Here’s How To Deal With That Unfortunate Situation”

  1. […] What follows is a story of cyber-attack evasion, active threat hunting and the discovery of a globally used phishing kit which provided a platform for thieves to ‘jailbreak’ stolen electronics. Something that I had brought to your attention a few months ago. […]

  2. […] year ago, I brought to your attention a scam related to stolen iPhones and Apple’s very effective Activation Lock feature. The scam went […]

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