Today, your cell phone is much more than a device you use to make calls.
Instead, it has morphed into your every day resource, digital wallet, and mobile computer. With the responsibility of transmitting, storing, and protecting so much information, it’s obvious why your cell phone must be protected. Even so, the number of identity theft cases caused by poorly protected cell phones and mobile devices has continued to rise.
According to a Harris Interactive and ESET study, less than 50% of all portable devices included in the study were protected by the simplest form of security. In particular, 66% of laptop users, 75% of smartphone users, and a staggering 90% of tablet users didn’t even activate the device’s most basic locking feature, which is included on the device. As a result, the financial information of millions of people along with their identities are stolen because of the lax security associated with cell phones and mobile devices.
Identity Theft and Your Cell Phone
Identity theft can be defined a the unauthorized or attempted use of someone’s existing credit cards or existing accounts. Identity theft is also explained to be the misuse of someone’s personal information to attempt to commit crime or open new accounts. In 2010, identity theft was attributed to a total financial loss of $13.2 billion dollars. Although this figure was staggering, it nearly doubled in 2013 as the total bill associated with identity theft skyrocketed to $21 billion.
Even with the large dissemination of information about the protection of private information, identity theft continues to grow at an alarming rate. As one of the fastest growing crimes in America, identity theft has been bolstered by the theft of cell phones. According to ABC News, one out of three robberies in American involved cellphones. Robbers simply tear phones out of the hands of their victims, rummage through the unprotected data, powers down the phone down to reduce the likelihood of tracking them, wipes the data off of the phone, and resells the phone on the black market.
Becoming a Victim of Cell Phone Theft and Identity Theft
If your phone has been stolen and you have failed to protect your data, thieves can easily access practically whatever they want. The amount of data accessible on your phone can be slightly unearthing. Every time you conduct an online purchase, log into your online banking, or log into your credit card statement from your mobile device; you are transmitting information that is more than likely stored in your browser’s history. Identity thieves are professionals at recalling this data and extracting it.
Becoming a Victim of Cell Phone Identity Theft without a Stolen Phone
It’s also possible for identity thieve to steal your identity without physically having your phone.
- If you sell or give your device away without wiping the phone clean, you are including your identity as an added bonus.
- Thieves can use unsecured Wi-Fi or your Bluetooth connection to easily enter your phone and extract your personal data.
- Giving your personal information over the phone in a public place can result in someone eavesdropping and stealing your information.
- If someone temporarily has access to you phone, they can install software to cipher information or tune into your calls and steal your information.
Tips to Prevent You from Being the Next Victim
- As the most basic measure of security, set your phone to lock after a certain amount of time of inactivity.
- Always establish and use your voicemail password to prevent unauthorized access.
- If you decide to shop online or bank online, you should always do so on a secured network. This means you shouldn’t ever transmit private information over public free Wi-Fi networks, which are significantly more risky.
- If the app isn’t from a known and trusted source, you shouldn’t download it because certain apps have been accused of gathering and storing personal information.
- You should never use the auto save feature for your social media accounts, banking accounts, credit card accounts, Google Wallet, PayPal accounts, or any accounts tied to your financial or personal information.
- When you aren’t using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, turn them off. In addition, you can change your Bluetooth settings to alert you if someone tries to make a connection. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use has an added bonus of extending your battery life.
- You should always be cognizant of your surroundings when you are conducting transactions over the phone.
- Finally, find a LifeProof iphone 5 skin that stands out from other phones so you can see if someone is using your phone when you don’t want them to.