Protect Your Identity

Tips to help you protect your mobile devices and your identity.

| July 2, 2012

Mobile devices have become an indispensable tool for many people, and the thought of losing one of those devices, or having it stolen, is disconcerting, to say the least. But it happens every day. It’s estimated that lost or stolen phones alone could cost U.S. users $30 billion in 2012.

When a phone or tablet goes missing, so does a lot of personal information. And that can lead to more than just inconvenience. It can lead to a stolen identity.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. While identity thieves still resort to old-fashioned methods of information gathering, like going through trash and stealing wallets and purses, they can also get the personal information you store on your mobile device.

Here are three things you can do to help protect your mobile devices and your identity:

Password protect your device. A recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research found that even though many smartphones are being used to handle sensitive financial information, only 33 percent of smartphone owners password-protect their devices. If your phone falls into the wrong hands, you could make it very easy for someone to access your personal information and steal your identity.

Review your social network privacy settings. It’s not just advertisers taking advantage of the personal information you include on your social network sites. As the use of social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter, continues to increase, it’s expected that the use of malware will rise, too. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal information and money, so you need to review your privacy settings frequently, be careful of what apps you install, and never “friend” someone you don’t know.

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