What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen

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.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200137090&qid=1249754289&sr=1-6

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.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=3122091

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:

http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=cm_cd_ef_tft_tp?%5Fencoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx27JWJBP6N49OZ

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:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200144510&qid=1249839456&sr=1-4

Subscriptions

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.

trackitback

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…”  :)

Related news article: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/laworder/story/2BC896644B2E817B862576400006CB0E?OpenDocument 

(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.

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32 Responses to “What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen”

  1. A Matter of Perspective « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] For more serious information, please see this post: What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen. [...]

  2. Andrew Says:

    TrackItBack must have reaised their prices since you wrote this, because when I looked, their stickers were $19.95. You do get lifetime protection with free returns, though.

    On the other hand, some people might prefer SuffBak, which offers a similar service. They have a cheaper price per sticker ($8.95 for an individual sticker) but they only offer free returns for 2 years, then charge you a service fee ($29.95) if they recover the item for you. You can also extend the service for either 2 or 3 years, which then gives you free returns for everything you’ve registered with them for that amount of time.

    Depending on how many items you want to protect and how long you plan to keep them, one or the other service might be cheaper for you.

    I haven’t spoken with anyone at StuffBak, so I have no idea what their customer service is like. I have purchased some of their stickers, but I have no other connection with the company and I don’t vouch for them, just thought your readers might be interested in another option.

  3. TKC 98 James McQuivey | Covers for Kindle Says:

    [...] Tip – Bufo Calvin relates steps you should take if you lose your [...]

  4. William Durocher Says:

    Thanks for the tips on TrackItBack, I really wish I had used it now. I was vaguely aware of it but never bothered. If I get another Kindle I will get one. I really loved my kindle.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, William!

      I’m sorry you lost your Kindle! Been there…it’s tough, even though I did replace it eventually.

  5. Patty Says:

    About the second hand value to a thief. Along with access to sensitive personal information which could lead to identity theft, there is the added value of all the books you have purchased.

    The best solution would be for Amazon to disable the device when a Kindle has been lost or stolen and only reactivate it with proof of ownership, the way a credit card company would do.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Patty!

      The iniital access is only to books that are currently on the device. In my case, that would be under twenty books…some of which would have been available free. The others (which came from the Kindle store) would be available from the archives, and I suppose a literate thief (which seems a bit of a contradiction, honestly) would immediately start downloading them. Otherwise, once it is deregistered (which you should do if you think it has been lost or stolen), the archives are not available.

      When you blacklist the device with Amazon (which you can ask them to do when you report it lost or stolen), it can not be registered by someone else. That does not wipe the books that are stored locally, and doesn’t prevent a K3 from reaching the internet (but does prevent it from reaching Amazon’s Whispernet). A blacklisted device, in other words, can not get more books from the Kindle store or take advantage of the many features of the Kindle service (back up of your books from the Kindle store, Whispersync, and so on).

      If it is found, you can just call Kindle Customer Service, they can de-blacklist it, and you can re-register it. Your proof of ownership is logging into your account with your username (e-mail) and password. I don’t know if they might not ask for something else, but that part is easy.

      So, I think that is very close to what you are suggesting. I’m not sure that Amazon could brick the device (make it nonfunctional) remotely. I suppose that’s possible…they can push software updates, and could use an update that made the Kindle not work.

      As a former bookstore manager, though, I do doubt that the theft of a Kindle is done to get whatever books might be on it by someone who actually wants to read them. Remember, they have no idea what is on there…and there are so many ways to get free books (like public libraries…although I’m not sure how homeless people make that work). When I was a bookstore manager, bookstores were one of the most shoplifted retail segments. One of the main reasons was that it was so easy to get cash for the books…you just took them to a used bookstore. Even though those folks were supposed to ID you, it was rare that it happened. We had one thief who came through our store who sold books at the San Jose Flea Market…and was caught.

      Yes, there was probably a small number of magazines and books that were stolen to read…I interrupted that once with a minor stealing an adult magazine. But I don’t think the attraction of the books on the device is a large motivation of those who steal the devices.

  6. I have a Kindle…now what? (2010) « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] I recommend getting a recovery services sticker: see this previous post [...]

  7. Round up #45: Kindle: dethroned, stolen, and stylused? « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen [...]

  8. Sharon K. Harshman Says:

    My signicicant other just got me my Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I have basically stopped using my PC. I do EVERYTHING from my Kindle Fire. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT, GREATEST GIFT I’VE EVER GOTTEN. So I will most definately be getting one of those stickers until they can come up with a chip for it,(like a GPS) that all you have to do is go in put in your personal password, and it tells you with in however so many feet away from the signal, where it is. Love that idea? Tell someone to start working on it, hay? I love this blog too. Great information. I will definately keep looking at it.

  9. Viraj Shetty Says:

    A handy app for that – http://www.locayte.com, available on amazon app store too.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Viraj!

      It wouldn’t work on an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle…anything but a Kindle Fire)…and it’s not approved for the Fire in the Amazon Appstore (although it is for my Samsung Captivate).

      I assume you aren’t connected with the app except as a user, right? Do you know, though….what prevents someone from simply uninstalling it? I can see how it is useful for a lost device, which is great, but I’m not sure how useful it would be for a stolen one.

  10. Carter Butler Says:

    Question:
    my Kindle was either lost or stolen.
    I don’t know which.
    It is still registered to me weeks later and with no purchases on it.

    Can I then assume it isn’t being used?
    Or is it possible to “jailbreak” the device and have it still appear as registered?

    Put more simply: if it’s still registered to me, it can’t be registered to anyone else?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Carter!

      Sorry to hear that!

      A Kindle can not be registered to two accounts at the same time.

      Even though it hasn’t been used (yet), I’d still deregister it. If it shows up, you can just register it again. I’d report it as lost or stolen to Amazon at

      http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

      so they can “blacklist” it.

  11. Robin Says:

    Thanks much for the “Blacklist” information. When I deregistered my device on Amazon I didn’t see any info / recommendations for blacklisting. I followed your advice, called the number and within seconds my device was blacklisted…meaning it can no longer hurt me if fallen in the wrong hands. As you say, deregistering it won’t prevent bad guys from re-registering it.
    Thank You for your advice!
    Robin

  12. Jas Says:

    I lost my kindle in london. It must’ve been theft as we looked back at the last time we saw it. I have a galaxy tablet now but I really want a kindle instead. Whoever took it, they’ve done nothing as I checked the manage kindle on amazon. I deleted my payment method. But how do I deregister?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jas!

      Sorry to hear that! I’ve had that happen.

      You can deregister it yourself at that Manage Your Kindle page (under Manage Your Devices…it’s on your rightmost side of the screen) but contact Kindle Support and ask them to blacklist it.

      If you got it from Amazon.com or a store in the USA, start here:

      http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

  13. Cam Says:

    Hi! During a trip, I left my Kindle in a hotel room. Now my tour guide has it, but since shipping it to my country would probably have cost more than a new Kindle, I bought a new one.

    My Kindle was password protected, but I still want to deregister it because I don’t think I’m getting it back anytime soon. I was wondering, if I deregister it, will the password protection somehow disappear? And if apart from deregistering it, I ask Amazon to blacklist (deactivate) the device, can I ask them to reactivate it if I ever get it back?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Cam!

      Yes, I would deregister it…that’s what prevents purchases if someone does get through your password.

      I would not anticipate deregistering it affecting your password, however, different models of Kindles are affected differently by deregistration. Which Kindle do you have?

      http://www.amazon.com/help/kindle/which

      If you do get it back, you can contact Amazon, and you’ll be able to re-register it.

      • Cam Says:

        Wow, that was fast!

        Okay, I’m gonna deregister it just in case. I have a Kindle Touch. But even if the passcode disappears, no one would have access to my contents and information, so I guess it’s better to deregister the device and lose the passcode protection than keep it and risk having to pay for unwanted purchases…

        Thank you for the advice!

  14. It’s ILMK’s 4th birthday! | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen […]

  15. Lillie welch Says:

    im only 10 years old I lost my kindle yesterday 9-19-13 I lost it at a football game I had it in my hand when I was leaving and I had it with my blanket and it was under it and I wanted to play a game and I couldet fell it I said”I CANT FIND MY KINDLE”they stoped and we turnred around to see if it fell and I dident see it I was crying so hard and I cant find it still and I got it last month in Augest please help me

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lillie!

      I’m so sorry to hear that! I’ve lost a Kindle, and it’s definitely a sad thing.

      Have the adults in your life read the post on which you commented…that will give them some steps to take.

      Unfortunately, I can’t really help you get it back. We’ll just have to see what happens.

      If you were reading books on it, the good news is that you can read them even without the Kindle. The adults in your life can download a free reader app to your computer or phone, and you can read there. If you do end up getting a new Kindle and they register it to the same account, all of the Kindle store books you got for it will be available. On games, it will depend a bit as to whether or not it’s the same model: some games, for example, work on a touchscreen and not without one.

      I’m going to be hoping this works out for you! Good luck!

  16. Lillie welch Says:

    sorry computer is wrong today is 9-20-13

  17. Eight of our Kindles stolen | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] What to do if your Kindle is lost or stolen […]

  18. Ricardo Says:

    my kindle was stolen and I cant deregister becuz my parents will kill me

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ricardo!

      Not deregistering it means that the thief could order books on the account. An e-mail will be sent with each purchase to the e-mail address on the account. If that address belongs to your parents, not only will they be charged for the book (they could return it in seven days), but they might be more likely to realize it was stolen.

      I think you need to make your own decision here about what is right to do. If it were me, I would tell my parents. I think it is better to tell someone about something they won’t like than to have them discover it on your own…especially if, when they discover it, they think you were trying to hide it.

      I can tell you, there is more risk to the account in not deregistering it.

  19. Stuart Warren Says:

    trackitback.com seems to be dead now…

  20. Abdusamad Says:

    hello
    2 days also lost my kindle paperwhite…i forgot it at taxi…and i cant get contact with that taxi..

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