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If you find a lost or stolen iPhone in a random area and there’s no logical public establishment in the area to turn it in to (i.e. the store you found it in), you can always hand the phone over to the police. If you want to take matters into your own hands however and make sure that the iPhone is returned to the grateful hands of its owner, your first priority is to get in contact with them.
If the iPhone doesn’t have a passcode lock on it (which is highly unlikely), your best bet is to go through the owner’s contacts and find a family member of friend to get in touch with. If the iPhone is secured by a passcode, fear not. There are still a couple of methods you can use to get in touch with the owner, which we list out below:
How to Find out Who an iPhone Belongs to
- Ask Siri for Help
More often than not, iPhones that locked by a passcode still have Siri functionality enabled on it. Just hold down the home button from the lock screen and start firing call requests at Siri. Try to call the owner’s mom, dad, wife, husband, or home.
- Wait for an Incoming Call
You can also play the waiting game. Owners of lost or stolen iPhones are likely to try calling them at some point, hoping to find a Good Samaritan such as yourself on the other end of the line. It may also be that a friend or associate of the owner also calls the phone, unaware that it has been misplaced. Though it may be awkward to talk to a complete stranger, you can always explain the nature of the situation and politely ask for more information about the owner so you can return it to him or her.
- Wait for a ‘Lost My iPhone’ Message
As you are probably aware, iPhone owners can use Find My iPhone to lock their lost phones and leave a message with their alternative contact information on the lock screen. Be sure to keep an eye out for such a message to come through if you’re in possession of a lost or stolen iPhone.
- Turn the iPhone Over to the Appropriate Carrier
If the iPhone is powered on, you can always identify the owner’s wireless carrier by looking at the upper-left corner of the screen. When you take the iPhone into the appropriate carrier’s store, the employees can use the lost iPhone’s unique IMEI or MEID number to identify the owner and perhaps even contact him or her via email or family members. In pre-iPhone 6 models, IMEI or MEID can be found printed on the bottom of the back cover of the phone. The IMEI or MEID number can also be found printed on the SIM tray, which you can eject from the side of the device. But a simpler way to find the IMEI or MEID is to dial *#06# in the Phone app (if the iPhone isn’t locked, of course).
If you find a phone that isn’t yours, be sure to turn it in or use the above methods to track down the rightful owner.