Smartphone snooping and Identity Fraud on the rise

You might have more to worry about than just your suspicious girlfriend or inquisitive spouse getting into your phone.  The rise in smart phones and social media sites have given a new avenue for identity thieves to target incautious consumers. Don’t let your guard down by leaving your cell phone sitting around.

Some identity theft is caused when major institutions get their databases breached by hackers. For example Sony Corp’s PlayStation network was breached last year and personal information was accessed on a vast number of customers. Citicorp and Epsilon are other firms that got hacked into. Those are the big corporation break-ins though. For the little guy, just losing your cell phone can now mean the potential for serious snooping and even identity theft.  If you’re up to anything unsavory imagine the field day your boyfriend, girlfriend or lover would have if they could snoop your smart phone content!

Seven percent of smart phone users fell victim to identity fraud just last year. If you have a smart phone you’re about a third more likely to become a victim of fraud than a non smart phone user. The main reason is that people don’t make use of the password protection for their phones home screen. That means if you lose the phone, and you have credit card information logged into your emails or apps, that data can be stolen by the phone theif.

What happens when you leave your smart phone at the Starbucks?

People don’t realize that with their smart phones they are in essence carrying around a computer, or a computer’s worth of information. With email and Internet access there is a lot more than your naughty texts and pics that can be perused if someone gets their hands on your phone. You might fail to realize what a serious security breach it really is when you lose your smart phone these days because of the nature of the information we now store on them.

It used to be that all you had to do was report a phone stolen or insure it, fill out a stoken form online and replace it with a new one within a matter of days.  Nowadays it’s a bit more complicated because the smart phones are storing your personal information and a lot of it. Someone could have a field day with your blackberry or iPhone. They could access your social networks if you’re auto logged in, your emails, texts and files, applications and Internet favorites among other things. You could get stalked, spammed, followed or even obsessed over.  Someone could ogle your pictures or show up at your doorstep.  They could harass you by phone or even do some emotional damage with your contact list.  Plus, you could get financially ripped off by an identity thief.

Let’s say you use online banking and have Internet access with your banking account tabbed in your Internet favorites and the login name and password memorized by word completion. All the theif has to do is log in to get your bank balance and credit card information and could even use that data to make online orders or apply for credit. Leaving your phone sitting around is tantamount to leaving money out on the table. People might be tempted to snoop or even steal from you in this economy.

Protect your privacy

Smart phone snooping can range from having a nosy girlfriend or boyfriend snooping into your emails, texts and where you’ve been visiting online, to outright theft. If you ever wanted your significant other to find out that you’ve creating an Internet dating profile posing as single, leaving your smart phone sitting around while you’re in the shower or the yard is the way they will discover it.

Experts recommend that you password protect your mobile device. Avoid exposing personal information to someone who could potentially use it to verify that they are you. Also be very careful of the apps that you download. Only download commonly used apps that are safe such as iTunes and so forth. When you are using Wifi away from home be careful of the information you are passing.

Unsecured networks can be easily tapped into and eavesdropped by even teenagers with rudimentary electronic surveillance knowledge. Some apps are viruses meant to harm your computer and smart phone files and structure. Others however, are meant to silently fish for information. Keep abreast of your billing statements for credit cards and other services to make sure there aren’t any surprise transactions occurring. Don’t store your bank pin or personal information in a My Passwords file under My Documents. Such simple and obviously placed notes to yourself to remember passwords could come back to haunt you.

If you are leaving your phone sitting around you don’t want to remain auto logged in to your social networks with login and passwords conveniently remembered. Someone picking up your phone can simply start surfing all of your accounts that are accessible. If you have compromising photographs or other private content that too can be snooped by a voyeur who gets their hands on your phone.

You’ve been snooped

If you feel like your personal information has been compromised you can place a 90 day warning flag on your own credit. Check with your credit card company as they can usually refer you to a safe site where you can run a credit check on yourself. These are free once per year just be sure to call in to your banks customer service and use the credit site that your bank recommends. If you’ve been robbed you can spend the money to join a credit monitoring service which will send you alerts every time something happens with your credit or an application is filed.

Whether its your private emails or very personal social and even intimate exchanges, or your banking and financial information, take care.  An inquisitive spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or crook can really make a big mess out of gaining access to your personal information. Think of your cell phone getting stolen as similar to being in a car accident. You don’t want your smart phone data stolen, snooped or breached by anyone. After all, who needs that headache?


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