How me and Mom got to visit a police station in Paris

A while back I took my mom on an extended girls weekend to Paris. We had a great time! Nice food, nice shopping, breakfast at the Rue Mouffetard and all the other perks of the beautiful city of Paris.

Rue Mouffetard
Image credit: Janne Jäppinen

On Saturday we took the metro to get back from the great sights of the city. It was crowded and my mom had felt someone tugging her handbag a bit. When we got off the metro, she checked her bag and noticed her phone was missing! Someone had managed to slip in their hand next to the closed zipper and had taken the phone.

As soon as we got back to the hotel, my mom called my dad back at home who had the necessary info to shut down the number. She wasn’t too worried as she had acted appropriately. I did not have the heart to ruin our last night by telling her that she would most likely get a HUGE phone bill even for the short period that the number was still operational.

The next day, instead of going to see some nice art, we spent the day at a police station in the 5th “arrondissement” to report the theft. We had done everything right: we had shut down the number, we had gone to the police so it felt really unfair when we got home and a massive phone bill was waiting for my mom.

Now, what could we have done to stop my mom from getting phone stolen and receiving a big bill as thanks? Well, she could have used a more secure bag on the metro. But what if she could have locked the phone immediately after she noticed it was stolen? The thieves wouldn’t have had time to make a single call.

Before her next trip, I’m going to help mom install our Free Anti-Theft for smartphones:

  • If her phone gets stolen again, she can send a text message from my phone which will lock the phone. The thieves can’t see the content or make calls at my mom’s expense. If they change the SIM card, my mom finds out the new number.
  • Mom can also send an SMS to find out the location of the phone on a map. She could show that to the Police. I wouldn’t want her to go looking for the thieves herself…
  • However, it could be that the Police don’t have time to go looking for her phone, so then she can send a third text message to wipe the phone clean of all its data, including texts and photos.

Mom would most likely still need to buy a new phone, but at least she knows she won’t get any nasty, expensive surprises.

Have you or someone you know had their phone stolen? Did they have any luck getting it back?

Cheers,
Annika

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F2P can cost parents thousands of Euros – read this to avoid it

This is really an old problem, but it’s in the headlines again. Pokémon Go is yet another example of a “free” game with a business model based on in-app purchases. These games are also known as F2P, standing for free-to-play. You can start playing, and get hooked, for free. But soon you run into a situation where you can’t proceed without buying virtual stuff in the game. The stuff you buy is virtual but the payment is very real money. This is no doubt a profitable model. Pokémon Go went straight to the top and for example Finland-based Supercell, maker of Clash of Clans, has constantly reported nice profits. This can naturally cause trouble for addicted adults, but the real problems arise when kids get hooked. There are numerous public stories about kids making purchases for hundreds or even thousands of Euros, often without even understanding how much they have spent. And the sinister part is that this can go on for a while until you get the credit card bill, and it’s too late. 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But the store account is still owned by the kid and the password can be reset. The password reset link will be sent to the kid’s mail or phone number. It’s carte blanche again with the new password. Ok, you create an account you own for the kids phone. It’s tied to your mail and phone number, so the password reset trick shouldn’t work anymore. You put down your phone and head for the toilet. Your kid has been waiting for the opportunity and initiates the password reset request. Your phone is there on the table wide open, with the reset link in the mail. You can figure out the rest yourself. And of course the simple alternative. You think the store password on your kid’s device is secret. But in reality it is either too easy to guess or someone has been looking over your shoulder. So there’s many things that can go wrong, but what can we do to avoid it? There are many ways to fight this problem, but this is in my opinion the best approach: Let the kid set up the store account on the device and set own passwords. Just like an adult would use a phone, except that there’s no payment method registered. Never enter your credit card number on the kid’s device. On Android, get familiar with Google Play Family. This feature enables you to purchase stuff for your kid on your own device. On iPhone, send apps or money as gifts. There may be applications that bypass the store and handle credit card transactions directly. This can typically be handled with vouchers or other prepaid payment methods instead. The application usually guides the users and list all supported methods. Let’s also take a look at the hard way. Follow these instructions if you for some reasons must have your credit card registered as a payment method on the kid’s device. Make sure the store is protected with a good password that only you know. 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In Finland, there is this thing called juhannus. A few years ago, our former colleague Hetta described it like this: Well, Midsummer – or juhannus – as it is called in Finnish, is one of the most important public holidays in our calendar. It is celebrated, as you probably guessed, close to the dates of the Summer Solstice, when day is at its longest in the northern hemisphere. Finland being so far up north, the sun doesn’t set on juhannus at all. Considering that in the winter we get the never ending night, it’s no surprise we celebrate the sun not setting. So what do Finns do to celebrate juhannus? I already told you we flock to our summer cottages, but what then? We decorate the cottage with birch branches to celebrate the summer, we stock up on new potatoes which are just now in season and strawberries as well. We fire up the barbecue and eat grilled sausages to our hearts content. We burn bonfires that rival with the unsetting sun. And we get drunk. If that isn't vivid enough, this video may help: [protected-iframe id="f18649f0b62adf8eb1ec638fa5066050-10874323-9129869" info="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fsuomifinland100%2Fvideos%2F1278272918868972%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no"] And because the celebration is just so... celebratory, it's easy to lose your phone. So here are a few ways to prepare yourself for a party that lasts all night. 1. Don't use 5683 as your passcode. That spells love and it's also one of the first passcodes anyone trying to crack into your phone will try. So use something much more creative -- and use a 6-digit code if you can on your iPhone. You can also encrypt your Android. 2. Write down your IMEI number. If you lose your phone, you're going to need this so make sure you have it written down somewhere safe. 3. Back your content up. This makes your life a lot easier if your party goes too well and it's pretty simple on any iOS device. Just make sure you're using a strong, unique password for your iCloud account. Unfortunately on an Android phone, you'll have to use a third-party app. 4. Maybe just leave it home. Enjoy being with your friends and assume that they'll get the pictures you need to refresh your memory. And while you're out you can give your phone a quick internal "clean" with our free Boost app. [Image by Janne Hellsten | Flickr]

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