How to Retrieve Your Contacts From Your Phone if It’s Lost or Stolen

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If someone steals your phone or it goes missing, you may have lost hundreds of phone numbers (and who memorizes phone numbers anymore?) — unless you know how to retrieve your contacts and other information from the device.

In this article, I’ll go over the steps you need to take to access your contacts from your iPhone or Android phone if it’s been lost or stolen.

I have had the misfortune of losing a smartphone on more than one occasion. It’s an expensive and frustrating mistake! The following strategies are what I personally follow to keep access to the personal information on my phone.

If You’ve Lost Your Phone, Read This First

Once your phone goes missing, you should know that there are some security issues you need to address as soon as you can. Here are three things you should do when you lose your phone:

  1. Log into your iCloud or Google account on your PC or tablet and confirm that your data is backed up.
  2. Unlink your digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay from your account.
  3. If you have an Apple phone, you may also want to temporarily deactivate your iCloud account(s).

Once you’ve done all of that to help limit loss of your personal information and mitigate security issues here’s what to do to get back all that contact information.

How to Retrieve Your Contacts

Of course, you can always pay a website and third-party service to recover your phone contacts. But at, we’re all about helping you save money, so here is how to retrieve your contacts remotely for free.

Let’s start with Android, then we’ll consider the iPhone:

Here’s How to Retrieve Your Contacts From an Android Phone

Google makes it easy to access the contacts you have stored on your device or SIM card. In all cases, you can restore these contacts to a new phone or other devices.

The key to this method is that proverbial ounce of prevention: Your contacts must be saved to your Google Account. The good news is that you probably already transferred your contacts to Google when you set up your Android phone — even if you don’t remember doing it.

You can find out by going into your Gmail and clicking on the grid icon in the top right corner and accessing the Contacts app.


Google contacts screenshot

If your contacts are there, you can automatically sync them to any device you have. Of course, you can always turn auto-sync off or choose which apps you want to sync.

Here’s How to Retrieve Your Contacts From an iPhone

To retrieve your contacts from your iPhone, log in to your account and click on Advanced Settings, then Restore Contacts.

Advanced Settings in iCloud

You’ll be prompted to select an archive of contacts to restore. Once you select it, press Restore and it will be done.

Final Thoughts

Because smartphones have become such a big part of our lives, losing one can be, at the very least, a hassle. That’s why you should always take the preemptive step of backing up your phone’s data.

Also, depending on whether you have an iPhone or Android, familiarize yourself with your respective device’s location-tracking technology, Apple’s Find My iPhone or Google’s Find My Phone.

Both tools allow you to locate the physical whereabouts of your phone.

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