The use of smartphones is leaving everyone vulnerable to identity thieves attempting (and many succeeding) to steal your personal information. Consider some of the ways your phone is vulnerable and what you can do to protect yourself.
Smartphones are really just computers that can be hacked like any PC. Carrying these tiny computers around with us creates an easier entry for thieves to access sensitive information, along with listening to phone calls, reading texts and accessing contacts to send messages that appear to be from you. Each year more than 15 million Americans have their identities stolen because of the convenience of our cell phone usage.
However, there are things we can do to keep our information safe…
Don’t leave your phone unattended. If you notice, people often leave their phones on the table at restaurants while they go to order food or leave them plugged in at airports while they run to the bathroom. This is a prime opportunity for criminals to access all of your information, especially if your device is not password protected.
In an experiment using fake information, results showed that upon finding a phone left unattended, 72% of people looked through photos, 57% looked at saved passwords and 43% went into an online banking app. To prevent this from happening to you, use password protection on your phone without making it something easy or obvious. Use numbers, symbols and nonsense words in order to make it more difficult to guess. It may be more difficult to remember but it will better protect your information.
Whether you have Apple of Android, you can locate your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. iPhones come with the “Find my iPhone” app that allows you to erase your information from another Apple device as long as the app is enabled in iCloud settings before your device is missing. For Android users, Google also allows you to locate and wipe a stolen phone from Google’s Android Device Manager, accessible from Google’s website.
“Jailbreaking” or “Rooting” your phone leaves your phone open to fast identity theft and malware. Also, be sure to turn off Bluetooth when you are not using it and make sure that it is not set to discovery mode which can allow strangers to connect to your device without you knowing. Lastly, be picky when it comes to what apps you allow to access your location since many apps do not need your location for operating purposes.
Be skeptical of everything you do with your phone. Leaving it open to vulnerabilities can end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. Take the proper steps necessary to ensure your security.