A recent study found smartphone users are at a 33% increased risk for identity theft. However there are things you can do to stay one step ahead and protect your identity. BMO Harris suggests the following strategies to keep your information from falling into the wrong hands:
Password Protect Your Phone This is the first step you should take toward protecting your identity. In the event your phone is lost of stolen, a password creates a barrier against thieves trying to access your information. Passwords that are long (12 characters) and contain symbols along with upper & lowercase letters are harder to crack.
Be Selective When Downloading Apps – While many programs are safe to use, some are actually tools created by identity thieves to collect and distribute your personal information. Before downloading an app make sure it’s from a secure source and read the decription to find out what personal data is collected. If it seems suspicious, skip it.
Be Careful Using Public Wi-Fi – Although it’s tempting to tap into public Wi-Fi zones, these hotspots are frequently targeted by hackers looking to gain access to your personal information. A better bet is using your network provider connection, even if it dips into your data plan. If you must use a public connection, avoid email, online banking, or buying anything with a credit card number.
Use Basic Computer Smarts – Just as you wouldn’t visit suspicious websites or open questionable links on your personal computer, you shouldn’t do these things when using your phone. Also remember to check that a site is secure before providing personal or financial information for logging in or purchasing items.
Use Social Media with Caution – Basic rule of thumb is to remember that anything you post on a ‘public’ site can be seen by family and friends and other people, including identity thieves, so you make sure you don’t include personal information on these updates.
Find my iPhone – If one of your Apple devices goes missing, don’t panic. iCloud can help you figure out where it is. With the Lost Mode feature you don’t just see where the device is, you can track where it’s been and then decide on your best course off action. You can immediately lock your device and send it a message with a contact number. Then whoever finds it can call you from the lock screen without accessing the rest of the information on your device.