What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen
Many Kindle owners become very fond of the devices. It’s devastating for many to think of their Kindles being lost or stolen, but unfortunately, it does happen. Kindles have a high value on the secondary market (E-Bay, Craig’s List, local newspapers), so there is definitely motivation for thieves.
If it does happen, what should you do?
The first question is whether there is a risk that someone has it that you don’t trust. You may feel different if you left it at a family member’s house than if you left it in a restaurant.
If a “bad guy” could have it, deregister the device. That is what Amazon recommends here:
If your Kindle is lost or stolen, or you transfer ownership to another person, you will need to deregister your Kindle from your Amazon.com account.
While registered, your Kindle can access your account. A user can make purchases using your 1-click settings, which could place significant charges on your credit card. If you have a gift card/certificate balance on your account, your 1-click purchases will first draw from that, before using the credit card.
It’s important to note that the Amazon policy says:
We are not responsible if a Gift Card is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without your permission.
According to the policy, then, if your Kindle is stolen and you have a gift card/certificate balance and purchases are made using that balance, you will be out that money.
If you deregister the Kindle, it can not access the Whispernet (the Kindle’s internet access), and it can not be used for purchases.
If you do not deregister it, the finder can deregister it directly from the Kindle, so you do not protect yourself by leaving it registered.
Maggie Leung, a Kindle forum member, also pointed out that a thief could use a stolen Kindle to get into your e-mail accounts or other websites if your password is stored. This could let them get to confidential information. Deregistering will prevent this.
What else should you do besides deregistering it?
1. Complete a police report. Although a Kindle is likely to be considered petty theft (the typical cut-off is $400: while a Kindle DX costs more than that, it may not be assessed at new value). The police may be able to recover it, and having a police report may help with other steps
2. It’s possible your renter’s/homeowner’s insurance may come into play. Check your deductible: it may be higher than the value of the Kindle. However, if the Kindle was only one of the things stolen, you may have a claim
3. You may want to check the Lost & Found where you were. Some people have reported success with that
4. You do not need to contact Amazon, outside of deregistering the device. If it is recovered, you will be re-registering it with them. UPDATE: Contact Amazon, and ask them to “blacklist” or “deactivate” the device. That will prevent it from being re-registered by someone else. That is something I was able to confirm on May 24, 2010, with Kindle Customer Service (after my own Kindle 2 had been missing for seven weeks). You can call them at 1-866-321-8851 (international customers use 1-206-266-0927)
Amazon is not an enforcement agency, and will not be the ones going after a thief. They do not have a way to verify your report that it was stolen. You could have sold it to someone else, and then reported it stolen. Another likely scenario is that a thief steals it from Customer A and sells it to innocent Customer B. Amazon can not compromise Customer B’s privacy by giving any information about that person to Customer A.
If you report it to the police, it’s reasonable that Amazon would cooperate with an investigation. In the scenario above, when Customer B went to register it, Amazon could report it to the police (if the police had made such a request). The police might then recover it, and return it to Customer A (after any ownership dispute was resolved). Catching the thief might be more resource-intensive, and Customer B would probably be out both the money and the Kindle.
If your Kindle is recovered and you reregister it, you will still have access to your Kindle store items. If you had personal documents or books from other sources, they will still be on the Kindle unless they were deleted by a thief (who might just do a factory reset).
If you get a new Kindle, you will have access to books you previously bought from the Kindle store (but not back issues of subscriptions). See:
If you buy a new Kindle, and the old one is recovered within thirty days, you can return the new Kindle for a full refund (you need the original packaging and accessories and it needs to be in original condition). The instructions are here:
Be aware that if you have subscriptions going to the device, you may want to change the delivery of future issues to a different Kindle (if you have one on the account). If you don’t have another Kindle, you may want to just cancel the subscription. You can do both of those on the Manage Your Kindle page.
There is a service that can reportedly give you an 85% chance of getting back your Kindle. I think it’s really clever, and I also want to say that they were very responsive when I chatted some questions to them.
It’s at http://www.trackitback.com , and here’s the basic idea.
You pay $12.95 for a label (lower for more than one at a time). You register it (no additional charge) at trackitback. The label does not have your identifying information, which can be a good thing. A finder goes to the website (on the label) and enters a number (on the label). The finder is guaranteed a reward. TIB gives them $100 in labels, and you can add your own amount if you choose.
TIB arranges to pick it up and return it to you…no additional cost! I can see how it could work very well, and I’ve read success stories and read about it being tested by the media. I asked TIB if they had a Kindle specific story, and they didn’t have one. Still, my guess is that it would be effective in the same way it is for laptops, cell phones, and so on.
There are a couple of negatives:
- If you sold your Kindle, you might have some trouble removing the sticker. I asked them about that, and they said it was possible…but clearly not easy. Of course, the purchaser wouldn’t get personal information about you
- You’d have to cut a hole in your “skin”, if you are using one, so the sticker showed. Otherwise, it wouldn’t work very well.
My opinion? It’s probably worth the $12.95, especially if you keep valuable personal documents on your Kindle. It might discourage a thief (since it might make it harder to sell). I would still deregister the device if it is missing. If someone doesn’t deliberately delete your personal documents, you’ll probably get them back if the Kindle is returned to you, and you can re-register it to get access to your previous Kindle store book purchases.
Have you used trackitback? If so, I’d be interested in any comments you might have.
One last thing: there have been quite a few threads about stolen or lost Kindles in the Amazon forum. One of them was called,
Don’t let anyone steal your Kindle
My first thought was, “Good plan…” :)
(Parts of this post originally appeared in my Amazon Author Central blog)
Just for full disclosure: after I wrote this post, TrackItBack did send me some stickers for free. That did not influence anything I wrote here…I didn’t know they were going to do that.
This version of this post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.