Smartphone Use Linked to Increase of Identity Theft

SmartphoneWe all have mobile phones these days. Frankly, most of us can’t even picture our lives without them anymore. Using cell phones for making calls and sending an occasional text message doesn’t necessarily put you at a high risk of identity theft, but nowadays with the increasing popularity of smartphones, we use them for many other purposes.

Logging in to you Facebook account, sending online payments, sharing pictures, googling for medical information, work documents, personal contacts, passwords… There’s all kinds of information stored on our phones, yet we do very little to protect others from gaining access to it.

I can only imagine the frustration over losing a smartphone. Fortunately I personally haven’t experienced it, and I honestly hope I never will, but many people have. Recent studies have linked identity theft to (among other things) the rising growth of smartphone usage: a staggering 13% growth since 2012. Even if you manage to get your phone back, it still was in the hands of a complete stranger and you never know what he or she might do with the information found on it.

Backgroundcheck.com put together an infographic that shows you the risks of using smartphones, and also gives you a few tips and measures you can do to decrease the chances of someone misusing your personal information, or at the very least make it much more difficult.

A computer security firm “lost” 50 smartphones around the US and Canada and made a note of what people who found them did:

  • 57% accessed a file named “saved passwords”
  • 60% checked social networking tools and personal email
  • 72% tried to access private photos
  • 43% attempted the use of an application named “online banking”

Apparently, only 50% of people who found phones returned them to the owners, despite their names being listed in the contacts.

You can view the full infographic below.

Infographic showing how smartphones can lead to identity theft

As seen from the infographic, there are some steps you can take to decrease the chances of someone misusing your smartphone:

  • Password protect your phone. Do remember however that passwords can always be cracked, but most people might not bother with it.
  • Get applications to help you locate your phone: Gadget Track, Cylay and iGotYa for iOS, or Where’s My Droid, Lookout or Plan B if you’re using Android. These apps can send you the phone’s location in case you lose it, and even send you a picture of the person who found it.
  • If you do use your phone, make sure to change passwords for any services you might have used: Paypal, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You can also deny access to some of those services from your mobile phone online.

Hopefully you’ll find these tips as useful as I did. Now go and make your smartphone a bit safer: you will sleep better.

Identity Theft Protection

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