What To Do When Your Kindle Or Kindle Fire Is Lost Or Stolen

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Hey, Thief Who Took My Son’s Kindle Fire: Think you just got a free tablet you can use to order all kinds of stuff on MY Amazon account? Not so fast.

 

When you lose your Kindle or Kindle Fire, believe it or not the loss of the device is not the worst part. No, that would be the fact that your Amazon account is now vulnerable to wrongful charges from anyone who finds your missing gadget. There is a tiny bit of good news, though: as always, Amazon’s exceptional Kindle customer service reps stand at the ready to prevent this from happening.

Note: if you’ve already gotten your lost or stolen device back, see this follow-up post: What Happens If You Get Your Lost Or Stolen Kindle / Fire Back?

 

The Thief Not Only Gets A Nifty E-reader Or Tablet, But Full Access To Charge Stuff To Your Amazon Account, Too

Remember when you first got your Kindle or Fire, and you “registered” it to your Amazon account? When you did that, you connected the device to your Amazon account. This makes it possible for you to access your ebooks, digital videos, digital music and apps, and also enables purchases of new Amazon stuff through your Kindle or Fire.

This is great when the Kindle or Fire is in your possession, but when it’s in the hands of someone else, it can be very, very bad because unless you’ve placed a password lock on your device and/or set the “require Amazon password” option for any purchases made from your Fire, anyone who has it can now use it to place orders on Amazon—or even change your Amazon password to lock you out of your own account.

Most people do NOT place a password lock on their Kindles or Fires, because it gets to be a bother having to enter a password every time you turn the thing on. Those who don’t share their device with others also tend to think there’s no need to set up the “require Amazon password” option for purchases. Also, most of us keep our Kindles or Fires close at hand so we don’t tend to worry about nefarious characters getting ahold of them.

The Fire that got away in my case belonged to my son, and it was not password protected.

 

This is just one of the many Amazon Digital Videos in my collection the thief will NOT be enjoying on my son’s Kindle Fire.

 

Call Amazon, RIGHT AWAY!

The sooner you call Amazon, the less likely it is that you’ll be victimized. Go to Amazon’s Help page, click on the button to specify you need help with a Kindle, and then select whatever you want in the drop-down boxes where you’re required to describe your issue or problem. There aren’t any selections there for dealing with a lost or stolen Kindle or Fire anyway, you really just need to jump through a couple of hoops here to get a live human on the phone.

Use the ‘call me’ option, specify ‘now’ for the call time, and enter your phone number; an Amazon Kindle rep will be right with you. Tell the rep your device was lost or stolen, and the rep will take care of the rest.

 

What The Amazon Kindle Rep Can Do To Protect You AND Make Your Device Useless To Thieves

You may be thinking that, because it’s possible to de-register any Kindle device you own all by yourself on the Manage My Kindle page under My Account on the Amazon site, there’s no need to get a Kindle customer service rep involved. But while it’s true that de-registering the device on your own will prevent anyone who finds it from accessing your Amazon account, letting an Amazon rep do it for you provides two additional, crucial benefits: the ability to remove any wrongful purchases from your Amazon account, and REVENGE!

When you call in, be sure to ask the rep if there have been any recent charges to your Amazon account. The rep will be able to look up recent orders, and remove any fraudulent charges from your account if necessary. But there’s one more thing they can do for you that’s even better…

 

Lock it up!

 

Every Kindle and Fire has a unique serial number, and Amazon identifies each machine by its number. When you report your Kindle or Fire lost/stolen to the Amazon rep, he or she will de-register it from your Amazon account (basically deleting your Ammy account information from the device) AND register its serial number as belonging to a lost or stolen device. The rep will also send you an email with the lost/stolen device’s serial number: KEEP THIS INFORMATION FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. You will need it if you ever get that missing device back (see next section).

Once your device has been flagged as lost or stolen, Amazon will be notified when anyone tries to re-register that specific machine to any Amazon account, and will not allow it. A Kindle or Fire that’s not registered to an Amazon account is useless, and if all us Kindle / Fire owners routinely report our lost and stolen devices to Amazon like this, it won’t be long before thieves realize there’s no point in stealing them in the first place.

 

What If You Find Your Kindle or Fire Later?

If your device turns up at some point after you’ve reported it as lost or stolen, look up that serial number the Amazon rep sent you, then follow the same steps to get an Amazon Kindle rep on the phone to re-register it. The rep will ask you some account security questions to verify your identity, and then you’ll be back in business.

 

Also see:

Never Buy A Bad Kindle Book Again: Tips To Help You Avoid The Clunkers

Kindle Fire Music Tips: How To Find Music You Just Bought On Your Fire & How To Conserve Your Data Plan While Listening

Kindle Fire Tip: Use Collections For Apps

 

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36 Comments

  1. Comment by Lydia Rangel:

    Great information, thanks.

  2. Comment by Debbie Maute:

    Thank you for this very important information! It is great to know that not only I will be protected but that the thief will have a device that is completely useless. Most important is to not lose it in the first place and I don’t use my password but I will start using it whenever I take it out of the house from now on.

    • Comment by zarni0:

      it’s not useless unfortunately….

      • Comment by Mom:

        As it says in the article, it may not be useless but use is limited to only what’s currently on the device and therefore it’s severely handicapped. Whoever picked up my son’s Kindle Fire decided it wasn’t even worth keeping and turned it in to airport lost and found—but only after a couple weeks of trying to use it.

  3. Comment by Katherine A. Kaplan:

    Thank you very much for this helpful information! I hope I never have to use it, but at least I know what to do just in case.

  4. Comment by waffo:

    Thanks. I lost my Special Offers Kindle just two days ago and just went through the above information now. I did deregister it myself but wrote down the serial number and told the Amazon rep (through live chat instead of calling) the serial number. It has the option to send a transcript of the chat to your email so that you’ll know what was said, including your serial number too.

    I mainly wanted to do this so that no one can use my Kindle to purchase things but is it true that you can’t do anything with a Kindle unless it’s linked to an Amazon account? That’s even better for the thief who walked off with my Kindle.

    Now if only whoever stole it decided to return it so that I could have everything back to normal…

    • Comment by Mom:

      All the content that’s on a Kindle or Fire is tied to a specific Amazon customer account. When you de-register the device, the next time anyone turns on its wifi connection Amazon will delete/block all the content on it until it’s re-registered to a new Amazon account. Since reporting the loss flagged my son’s Fire as lost/stolen, nobody will be allowed to register it to a different Amazon account: it can only be re-registered to my account, and only by me because Amazon will require me to answer account security questions before they’ll re-register it.

      So long as the thief doesn’t turn on wifi, he or she will still have access to the content that was actually downloaded to the device (and my son didn’t have much downloaded to his Fire), but nothing from my Cloud libraries. And as soon as the thief turns on wifi, even the stuff that was actually downloaded to the device will be blocked or deleted, too. So yes, I’d say the device is pretty useless to whoever has it right now.

      • Comment by john:

        Nah it can be rooted. And used. To download 1 market which has games,apps,browsers and so much more….. and that’s with out registering it!!!!! Seen it done before…..

        • Comment by Mom:

          It CAN be rooted, but that doesn’t make it a good idea to do so. Every single person who’s written to me or commented here to say their Fire got a virus admitted to either rooting the device or sideloading at least one app they didn’t get from Amazon. Rooting your device is like laying out the welcome mat to hackers: don’t do it!

  5. Comment by DMD:

    Amazon was great! Revenge :-) At least something good comes out of this. Needless to say, I won’t be staying at that particular hotel again. So disappointed in housekeeping!!!

  6. Comment by Faye:

    Mine was just stolen, and the second call I made (after the police) was to amazon for deactivation because of potential charges. What I was wondering was if the thieves could possibly reconstruct my credit/debit card number from purchases made online? Should I cancel them and change the numbers?

    • Comment by Mom:

      It doesn’t seem likely. In order to even view past Amazon purchases, you must login to your Amazon account. Pretty much any time you want to make a purchase or do anything Amazon account -related, the Fire prompts you to login. Since the thief shouldn’t have your login credentials, he or she should not be able to login.

  7. Comment by Karen:

    My daughter, who had a Kindle Fire first asked me why I had my Kindle password protected. Going to send her the link to this page so she will know why! Thanks for posting this.

  8. Comment by Deb:

    Do you have any suggestions regarding a stolen kindle that was never registered? This device was stolen out of our home, and the thief left the box behind.

    • Comment by Mom:

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think there’s anything you can do because the serial number only gets tied to your Amazon account when you register it. There would be no way for Amazon to put any kind of lock on the device without the serial number. If you still have your packing slip, it’s possible the serial number of your device is listed there. In any event, it wouldn’t hurt to contact Amazon Kindle Support, just to confirm this. Login to your Amazon account, go to Your Account > Manage Your Kindle and click the Help link at the top of the page. On the Help page, there should be a large, yellow “Contact Us” button in one of the sidebars.

    • Comment by Jerry:

      Deb, the serial number is on the box it starts with FSN you can report that serial number stolen and it will be put on the lost/stolen list

      • Comment by Mom:

        Jerry – You’re right that the serial number is on the box, but I didn’t suggest this because it might not be possible for Deb to prove she ever owned that specific device if she never registered it to her Amazon account. It’s worth a try, though. I know Amazon doesn’t lock in a specific device serial number when you first place the order, but they might do so when it ships and they scan the barcode at the fulfillment center.

  9. Comment by Tammy:

    Thank you soooo much for this info. My kindle fire disappeared a year ago and about 2 days ago I started getting emails about apps (free ones) being downloaded. I was confused until I researchd and saw they were for the missing kindle. My husband was going to de-register it but calling Amazon to disable it is such a better idea!

  10. Comment by cyberhec:

    Great info, HOWEVER, if you deregister it, it is lost forever. The person who found it will have no way of finding out about you. Amazon will not put them in touch with you. If you simply change your password, they may still be able to see your email address and contact you (I think).

    • Comment by Mom:

      I still think it’s safer to call Amazon and deregister, because if you don’t there’s a risk of the person who finds it accessing your Amazon account to make unauthorized purchases or collect your personal data.

      • Comment by cyberhec:

        If you change your Amazon password, how would the person collect personal data?

        • Comment by Mom:

          If there’s a gap between the time you change your password and the time your Fire is in someone else’s hands, and you haven’t set your Fire to always require a password for purchases, the person who has it can use it to go to ‘your account’ on Amazon through the device during that gap period.

          • Comment by cyberhec:

            Hi Mom. I’m not familiar with the Kindle Fire (I had a Paperwhite). But you are right, of course. I assumed it’s much quicker to change your password than to report the device stolen. In either case, you need to be active in some way, either change your password or report lost/stolen without the possibility of getting it back.

  11. Comment by Nate:

    Ours was lost or stolen. I sent a message to the device with my contact information, just in case it fell into the “right” hands. You’re able to see (while managing your kindle accounts) “Pending Deliveries” and my note was never downloaded for a couple months. Then, it was gone, and my Kindle was no longer listed. So, someone had de-registered the Kindle from my account from the Kindle.

    At that point, since it wasn’t on my account, there was no credit card risk (that I know of), but I still wanted the Kindle back! When I called Amazon, while trying to figure out my options, the Customer Svce. Rep. de-activated the Kindle. At that point, my understanding is that the Kindle can’t be used by anyone, and if I ever get it back, I’ll be able to call, and provide personal info. that would allow Amazon to re-activate.

    All well and good, but NO good if you want to catch the person who has it. So, in hindsight, (and where Amazon becomes LESS helpful) I should have allowed the person to re-register it (by checking in periodically w/Amazon), then once registered, attempt to get the town/city of the person who re-registered it … Amazon WILL NOT give ANY personal information on who has registered your Kindle. But, you can’t file a police report in a town where the police don’t have jurisdiction. So, my plan was to wait for the person to re-register, beg Amazon to JUST provide the town they live in, solely for the purpose of filing a report w/the police in the right town.

    Amazon claims that if they are contacted by the police, THEN they can release personal information on the person who has your stolen device, but they won’t give it to you. And, once it’s de-activated, this avenue for possibly getting the device back disappears, because anyone who tries to re-activate the Kindle won’t have any of the required personal information necessary. Paperwhite becomes Paperweight!

  12. Comment by Firey Mad:

    Amazon will not help you. Your device can be registered to the thief and used by them. Amazon has the name and address of the person who ;has and is using my stolen Kindle but they will not give it to the police so my case remains open and the thief is happily using my Kindle. Every one of the ‘service’ people at Amazon can see the persons’ info,(one employee accidently told me it is registered to ALEX)
    I paid for the device and have the unique ID# but cannot see this info…..the thief has more rights than I do as the owner of the Amazon.com kindle. It seems so simple, the police could have the information, I might actually get my Kindle back but nooooo…..Amazon wil NOT release the info……STINKY CUSTOMER SERVICE!!

    • Comment by Mom:

      Amazon can’t know your device is stolen until you report it as stolen. If it’s re-registered by the thief before then, I can see where Amazon wouldn’t want to release private name and address info. If the robbery report turns out to be false (I’m not saying I think it *is* a false report in your case, just that there’s no way to prove to Amazon it really *was* stolen) then Amazon’s liable for having shared its customer’s private information. Maybe they’re being excessively cautious or just want to avoid the administrative overhead, but I can still see the issue of liability there.

    • Comment by Bibsi:

      Just because some Alex is using your Kindle does not mean he or she stole it, they might have bought your Kindle from the thief, not knowing that it was stolen.

      Get a lawyer, start a lawsuit and then a judge will decide whether Amazon has to hand out name and address of the new Kindle user.

      • Comment by Mom:

        The only problem with this suggestion is that it’ll cost you more to hire a lawyer—oftentimes even just to consult one—than it would to buy a new Fire tablet.

  13. Comment by Val:

    I purchased a kindle fire 6 for my daughter last week. The package was listed as delivered to my address, but apparently someone stole it off of my porch before I got home from work. I contacted Amazon, and they are going to send me a replacement. Obviously, it was never actually registered to me or my amazon account and I don’t have a serial number, but does that mean the thief is able to just register it to their own account and use it scott free? Seems like Amazon should have a way to stop them from doing that and to track them down.I hate to think someone could just get away with something like that.

    • Comment by Mom:

      Amazon knows to whom each new Fire tablet is being sent: beginning with the latest generation of Fires Amazon has it set up so the Fire is pre-registered to a specific customer before it ships, and this is done to streamline the setup/registration process. However, the customer is still prompted to enter their Amazon password during setup so don’t worry that the thief can link the stolen tablet to your account and make fraudulent purchases. The thief would have to register the Fire to his or her own account, or create a brand new Amazon account. While Amazon should be able to tell when someone else tries to register a Fire tablet that was intended for you, I don’t know what their internal process is, if any, for dealing with that situation.

  14. Comment by Rose:

    Great helpful information. I did call Amazon initially when I lost my Kindle and the person kept telling me that I needed to pay $99 so that they would de-register it and flag it as stolen. I wasn’t sure this was right and let him know and he hung up on me. I called later that day and spoke to someone else that did just what you said they should do and at no charge.
    Thanks again for the information!

    • Comment by Mom:

      Sounds like maybe the first time you called a wrong number? Scammers will sometimes get phone numbers that are one digit off from legitimate vendor customer service numbers to trick consumers into giving away credit card numbers, social security numbers and so on. But if you used the ‘call me’ support option from the Amazon site, where Amazon calls you, I’m not sure how that first call could’ve happened. I suppose it’s possible there are bad guys working in Amazon Customer Support, so if the first call was initiated by Amazon I suggest you report it.

  15. Comment by Bibsi:

    I don’t agree with “it won’t be long before thieves realize there’s no point in stealing them in the first place”. I assume thieves will not care what they steal, they’ll take anything that looks like they could sell it if they get the opportunity.
    If they cannot sell it because you have locked it they’ll just throw it away. It has no value to them anymore.

    • Comment by Mom:

      I said that if everyone routinely reported their Fires stolen/missing and asked Amazon to lock the device by serial number, “it won’t be long before thieves realize there’s no point in stealing them in the first place”, and I stand by that statement. There are already plenty of pieces of tech out there that are useless to thieves due to built-in security measures, and thieves don’t waste their time stealing those. This is not true of Fire tablets as of yet, and may never be; it depends on whether or not this kind of theft reporting becomes commonplace, or if Amazon eventually rolls out some kind of device security that makes the tablets worthless to anyone but the registered owner.

  16. Comment by Deeanna:

    If amazon knows who they are sending each device to-you would think that they could track each device by serial number so that if it is lost or stolen they can locate where it is.

    • Comment by Mom:

      It’s possible to do what you suggest, just in terms of the technology, but there would be staffing and tracking hardware/software expenses for Amazon to shoulder. I don’t think they could keep the prices of the Fires so low if they had to cover all of that expense, and since most Fire owners don’t suffer lost or stolen Fires, I can see where Amazon might feel it’s not worth raising the price to all customers for the sake of the affected few.

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