It's a traveler's worst nightmare: a BlackBerry, filled with personal e-mails, bank account information, and family pictures, is suddenly missing from a pocket or carry-on bag. Not only is a pricey gadget lost, but so is valuable information and contacts.
Now, a cell phone superhero claims it can protect your confidential data and aid in safely returning your gadget.
No, it's not a dude wearing tights, but a service from YouGetItBack.com that launches today in the U.S. and Canada. The downloadable software lets subscribers go online and remotely lock their mobile phone once it goes missing, meaning thieves won't be able to make call with the stolen device. Subscribers can also retrieve contacts from the phone via the Internet.
If the phone is found, the only outgoing call that can be made is to the YouGetItBack service, which will work with the finder to return your device. Otherwise, a finder can log on to the Web site to return the lost gadget.
"Industry research indicates that most people want to do the right thing," said YouGetItBack CEO Frank Hannigan. "And if you make it easy and risk free for them...they are more than happy to see that a found item is reunited with its owner."
The service costs $20 a year and can be downloaded to many phones, although compatibility with the iPhone is still in the works, and my Samsung SGH-A437 didn't make the list.
In case the finder doesn't open the phone--or is cell phone- or Internet-illiterate--YouGetItBack.com also sells adhesive security tags with unique device numbers and a toll-free return number. The tags, which start at $10 for three years of use, can be used for any mobile gadget or piece of luggage. YouGetItBack.com also runs a laptop superhero service that currently only works with Windows XP.
A premium service will replace the lost device if the software and tags are unsuccessful. The Ireland-based company said about 75 percent of its tagged and registered gadgets are returned to their owners.