It’s not surprising that a recent article from the
Pew Research Center shows “68% of adults now have
a smartphone.” They have quickly become an extension of a person...
some would even say smartphones are more important than one’s wallet because it
holds both photo memories and quick access to email and other personal
That said, a compromised, lost or stolen smartphone can significantly increase
your risk of identity theft. Here’s what you can do to reduce those risks!
Set a passcode.
A passcode on your phone is your
first level of defense. Check you settings to make sure that the phone will
lock its screen after a few minutes of inactivity. Without a passcode, a thief
can instantly find everything from your contacts, locations you have traveled
to via maps, your email, pictures, etc. Here’s one example of just how quick a
thief can work on an unlocked phone to steal your identity: A thief picks up
your phone and sees a banking app on your screen. They can go into that app and
click the “Forgot Password.” If the default on that app is to email you a link
to reset that password, the thief can quickly go back to your email account and
can now reset your password to access your account(s).
Make that passcode unique!
Using a code like
“1234” or your birthdate makes for a very easy hack. But how would a thief know
your birthdate if they don’t have your driver’s license or other photo ID? The
answer is a quick search on social networking sites, like Facebook, or people
search engines, such as Spokeo. As an added layer of defense, you should
secure your Facebook account and
opt-out of people search engines.
Choose your apps carefully.
When you look for new
apps to download, avoid apps from any third-party sources. The official stores
(e.g. those provided by Apple, Google) have rigorous processes in place to
ensure that any apps available to their customers are free of any malicious
codes. As a rule of thumb, always take the extra few minutes to make sure the
app developer’s name is reputable and the user reviews are favorable.