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Lost cell phone? Get it returned with these tips

As Americans get ready to embark on Spring Break, the last thing they may be thinking of is whether their phone will return home with them. Global tech care company Asurion has the research-backed tips to help travelers boost their chances of having a lost device returned, avoid expensive roaming fees, and tips for how to mitigate the risks of traveling with tech.

Understanding that the sun, sand and surf of vacation is a prime time for losing track of your phone, Asurion conducted an experiment and "lost" smartphones in three major cities across the U.S. to test the likelihood of them being returned. The result: Locked phones featuring a contact number on the device's lock screen were three times more likely to be returned to their owners.

Seventy-one percent of Americans lock their smartphones with passcode, fingerprint or facial recognition protection. However, less than 1 in 4 say their screens are password protected with contact information featured on the screen, according to a 2018 Asurion survey.

"Adding an image on your phone's locked screen that includes an 'if lost' contact number or email address makes it easier for someone to return it to you," said Bettie Colombo, Asurion spokesperson. "Whether you're traveling for Spring Break or for any upcoming trip, our data shows this simple trick will greatly increase your chances of getting your phone back if you misplace it."

Device Travel Tips from Tech Experts

In addition to keeping your tech safe, Asurion, which provides device protection and tech help services to millions of wireless customers, regularly devises the latest tech tips to help minimize the pain points associated with travel. Asurion tech experts tell us the tips they swear by when making Spring Break and other vacation plans:

Make your device returnable: Before your vacation begins, consider locking your device with a passcode and displaying an alternate contact number or email on the locked screen. The easiest way is to take an Instagram Story with your favorite photo and add in contact information. Download the image to your phone. From there, on iPhones go to Settings – Wall Paper and Themes. Select your downloaded image, then press Set as Wallpaper – Lock Screen. On Androids go to Settings – Personalize and tap Change or Edit under Themes. Tap Next – Edit – Other Wallpapers – Change Wallpaper and then choose your image.

Don't panic: If your phone is damaged, lost or stolen, don't worry. If you have an Asurion protection plan through one of the country's top wireless carriers, you can get a replacement phone delivered to your hotel or vacation rental in most cities in the U.S., usually in less than 24 hours.

Be wary of roaming charges: Typically, your rate plan on your smartphone is for domestic use only and covers calls, text and data usage. Continuing to use your phone in the same manner internationally results in higher rates per minute for phone calls, text and data usage. There have been reports of vacationers returning home to thousands of dollars in roaming charges. Contact your wireless carrier to register for an international calling plan that best fits your travel plans.

Choose the right browser: Consider using a web browser like Opera Mini (it can quickly load web pages while using slow networks, like 2G and 2.5G), so you can quickly access the desktop version of your go-to apps (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps).

Embrace Battery Saving Mode and Wi-Fi: These two are your best friends when traveling. It's often a challenge to find wall outlet to charge your device when traveling, so Battery Saving Mode can be a total lifesaver. Keeping your phone in Airplane Mode can also do wonders for your battery life. If you know you're going to be in a spot that's not likely to have service, there's no use in draining your battery searching for it.

Use maps offline: Download region maps for offline use in advance.

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