In recent years, the amount of reported stolen cell phones has grown drastically. However, with the accessibility to information smartphones provide, cell phone theft victims are more at risk for identity theft than ever before.
Here are six tips for protecting yourself from identity theft while using a smartphone:
1. Always lock your phone. While this may seem obvious, 62 percent of phone users do not have a password-protected phone, which means any stranger can easily access the information stored on your device. Unfortunately, even though a password is not going to keep you completely safe from identity thieves, it can make it more difficult for them to access your information stored on your phone.
2. Download "find my phone." Another easy precautionary measure smartphone users can take is to download "find my phone" or other similar apps onto your phone and turn them on. That way, if your phone is lost or stolen, you can track its location.
3. Don't save passwords. For today's average American, convenience with everything is essential. We love our smartphones because they easily let us just enjoy some of the main highlights of the internet anywhere. However, convenience can come at a cost. While it may be effortless to have your phone automatically store and remember your passwords, if your phone were to ever get stolen, it can be very simple for thieves to steal your information.
4. Use public Internet with caution. If you've ever visited a restaurant, coffee shop or library while using your smartphone, chances are you've logged onto their free Wi-Fi. While this is an easy way to save your data, it does endanger your privacy. Many Wi-Fi hotpots are unsecured, making it easy for others using the network to hack into your accounts. Be careful when transacting when on free Wi-Fi.
5. Hide personal information. Keeping up with all of your various passwords and account numbers can be a difficult task. To make it easier, apps such as “notepad” can help you keep track of them. However, if your phone were to ever get stolen, seasoned identity thieves may be able to get their hands on everything that’s safely guarded by passwords.
6. Know your apps access. Remember that cool new app you just downloaded? While it might be making your life easier in some way or even entertaining you, it could also be accessing important information on your phone. When you click "OK" or "I accept" during an app download, you'll see a list of everything the app will have access to on your phone, which may include your location, contacts, calendar and photos. Always be sure to read through the list to make sure you are comfortable with what the app will see, and go into your app settings once the app is downloaded to change any privacy settings such as location tracking.
There's no doubt that smartphones are a great invention. However, at the same time they have made the work for identity thieves a little bit easier. By following these six tips, your level of anxiety about the possibility of becoming a victim of smart phone id theft will decrease!