Family Safety Tip: Smart Phones
Your most dangerous possession: Your Smart Phone
Forget what’s in your wallet — beware your smartphone. It’s becoming one of your most dangerous possessions.If your phone was stolen a few years ago, the thief could make prank calls and read your text messages. Today, that person can destroy your social life — you said what on Facebook?! — and wreak havoc on your finances.
Now that smartphones double as wallets and bank accounts — allowing users to manage their finances, transfer money, make payments, deposit checks and swipe their phones as credit cards — they are very lucrative scores for thieves. And with 30% of phone subscribers owning iPhones, BlackBerrys and Droids, there are a lot of people at risk.
“It’s crazy the amount of information on that phone — it’s like carrying a mini-computer around with you, except that more people know the settings on their computer than they do on their phones at this point,” said Nikki Junker, social media coordinator and victim advisor at Identity Theft Resource Center. “People are incredibly at risk as technology improves.”And mobile banking use is expected to soar by nearly 55% next year, according to recent data compiled by TowerGroup, a research firm for the financial services industry.
How to Protect Yourself
While storing a password and keeping your phone locked is a good start, it’s not going to protect you from professional fraudsters.
Most smartphones also offer remote wipe-out services — like MobileMe for the iPhone — that automatically erase the information on your phone if you claim it as lost or stolen.
If you bank with your phone by accessing its website rather than opening an app, be extra careful when typing in the address. Some identity thefts create domains with the same address as major banks with two letters switched in hopes a consumer will accidentally land on the site and enter their username and password, said Junker.
And make sure you immediately log out of any bank apps or sites where your financial information is stored as soon as you’re finished. While your identity is still at risk if your phone is stolen, this will buy you time to wipe out your information as soon as you realize it’s gone.