Guide to recover your cryptocurrencies if you lose your phone

Guía para recuperar tus criptos si pierdes tu teléfono
11 min read

All of us crypto-users, who downloaded our wallets on our mobile, were in the same place and asked ourselves the same question, how to recover my cryptocurrencies if I have lost my phone?

Today it is my turn to write a guide, on which you can rely in case this “tragedy” knocks on your door. But also, I will give you some tips to keep in mind before the “misfortune” catches up with us.

In this ecosystem, we often say that users are our own bank. However, this dose of freedom is balanced by the enormous responsibility that this premise entails. Without further ado, let’s dive into the article.

First, how do I get my cryptocurrencies back?

To recover your cryptocurrencies in case you lose the phone on which you have downloaded your wallet(s), you need only one tool, the powerful key that gives you access to them, your “seed phrase“. 

When we create a new wallet, it gives us a long concatenation of words, usually 12 or 24 words. This list of words is the famous “seed” or seed phrase that you should write down and keep in a safe place. If you lose your phone all you have to do is download a wallet on another device, look for the “import wallet” or “restore wallet” section and write down each of your saved words. You will automatically regain access to your wallet funds.

As you may have once heard, the main recommendation made to anyone entering the crypto world is:

    • “Write down your seed on paper, keep it in a safe place and don’t share it with anyone.”

It may sound a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? The reality is that it is not, since this random combination of words is the key to access your cryptocurrencies. Whoever has it, will be able to dispose of them as they please. 

In short, without these words, we will not be able to recover our cryptos if we lose our device. But before continuing it is necessary to understand some concepts.

Where are my cryptocurrencies?

Not only knowing, but really understanding the answer to this question will save us a lot of headaches and uncertainties. Cryptocurrencies will always remain within the blockchain and do not belong to any person, but to an address within the blockchain.

What a sentence, isn’t it? Now let’s explain it. When we say that a cryptocurrency will always remain inside the blockchain, it means that they are not stored inside our phone, computer or device in which we visualize them or make use of them.

So, what do we have on our phone? In it we download an application that we know as “wallet” and there we observe our holdings. But, cryptocurrencies are not inside the wallet, this software is simply an interface that presents the blockchain information in a simple or understandable way.

And how is it that whenever we log into the wallet we always find our coins and can use them? Thanks to the public and private key pair, which the wallet returns to us when we create a new account. Let’s see what happens when we create a wallet.

 

What happens when we create a new wallet? 

The vast majority of crypto-wallets in which we have custody of funds ( ex. Bitnovo APP), when we create a new account, provide us with a combination of words known as “seed” or seed phrase.

This long list of words, usually composed of 12 or 24, is the most important piece of information in our wallet. This phrase is a friendly presentation of the real password composed of a long string of numbers and letters.

Some wallets present us with this “real password”, known as “private key”. Advanced users prefer to trust it and write it down, as they do with their “seed”, since it is a means to recover our wallets. When it comes to taking precautions about our holdings, no measure is exaggerated.

Some wallets present us with this “real password”, known as “private key”. Advanced users prefer to trust it and write it down, as they do with their “seed”, since it is a means to recover our wallets. When it comes to taking precautions about our holdings, no measure is exaggerated.

 

So what does my phone store?

Once we create our account, write down and save in a safe place our “seed”, the wallet will ask us to create a password.

This password will be used to enter the wallet and in some cases will be requested before making a transaction. It is extremely important to understand that this password only unlocks our wallet in the device we are operating with.

If we recover our wallet on a new phone or device, we can create a different password and use it without any problems. And precisely, here is the risk, that password is “saved” locally on the device. For this reason, whoever accesses our phone and knows that password will be able to access our coins.

Now that we know where our cryptocurrencies are, what we download and what we store on our devices, let’s see what we should do in case we lose our phone.

Guía para recuperar tus criptos si pierdes tu teléfono

I have already lost my phone, how do I recover my funds?

Obviously, if you have just read the first part of this article, you will already have an initial idea of what to do to recover your cryptos.

In the device you have at hand, which is safe to use, you will have to download again the wallet or wallets you had in your lost phone. Entering each one of them, through the “recover wallet” option, you will find a request to load your seed phrase. Now it is time to go to that safe place where you saved the seed phrases of your wallets.

By loading each of the words in the corresponding wallet, your wallets will be retrieved in this new device. Again you are in control of your cryptos. But do you think your lost phone is vulnerable? You need to take some extra measures.

 

What to do if you think the security of your lost phone may have been compromised?

If you think that whoever has possession of your phone can easily access the applications downloaded on it or you do not trust the security methods you used, you can take the following measure:

Create a new wallet for each wallet you had, write down the seed phrases and generate new passwords. Once you have your new accounts, you can transfer the funds from your old wallets to the new ones, whose security is not compromised, and regain peace of mind.

Now, if you have doubts about the security of your device, here are some recommendations to increase your expertise in this important segment.

 

Preventive measures

It is important to pay special attention to the security of our devices. From the moment we enter the crypto world, we have our money at our fingertips, but we are also responsible for its security. If we fail on this point, there is no one to complain to.

This new role that we assume can be strengthened by certain actions that we can take and that, ultimately, will allow us to sleep more peacefully:

    • Knowing the methods to remotely lock our phones
    • Generate different passwords for each application, memorable, but without falling into obvious personal data.
    • Take special care when connecting to WiFi networks, if possible avoid public/open networks.
    • Use VPN services to encrypt our data between our device and the router.
    • Store seed phrases and passwords off devices susceptible to vulnerabilities (paper is a superior option here).
    • As soon as the applications allow it, use 2FA or double authentication methods (Google Authenticator, Authy or Lastpass).
    • Avoid security methods linked to your mobile number

It is obvious that this type of recommendations will not prevent us from losing our phones or will not be 100% infallible in the event of a loss. But they undoubtedly contribute to the security of our cryptocurrency holdings and enhance our role as owners of our own money. If you want to learn more, in this article we explain how to increase the security of your cryptocurrencies.

Guía para recuperar tus criptos si pierdes tu teléfono

Clarification and endnotes

Before concluding, it is necessary to clarify that in this article I have only talked about the cryptocurrencies that we have in the different blockchains with which we interact and that we visualize through our wallets.

I mean that I have left aside the holdings that we may have in centralized exchanges. This is because in case we lose our phone, in order to recover our holdings in them, we only have to follow the instructions provided by their support centers. However, the recommended security measures must also be taken into account when managing our applications related to centralized exchanges or, as we usually call them, “cryptocurrency banks“.

Now you may be wondering why, when you create a wallet in an exchange, they don’t give you a seed phrase. It is because, even though they call it a “wallet”, when we trade on these platforms, we trade with representations of cryptocurrencies, not with real cryptos and you don’t actually own those funds. They become real once we withdraw them from the exchange and send them to a wallet of which we have possession of their seed phrase (12 or 24 words).

Perhaps now, the phrase “not your keys, not your coins”, makes more sense…..

Reflection

From the moment we become aware of the task we are taking on by being “our own bank”, no security measure will seem exaggerated.

While writing down and storing our “seed” in a safe place is the key to recovering our cryptos if we lose our phone, the security measures reviewed in the article are extremely important to protect us.

Great objectives require great efforts. The freedom that cryptocurrencies nourish us with has its counterpart in the responsibility that their management implies.

Are you willing to take on this role? This is the question that every new crypto-user should ask themselves in front of the mirror.