Smartphone carry a lot of things an identity thief would love to have: stored passwords to online accounts, banking information, email addresses and phone numbers. How can anyone make sure private data stays private? Adam Levin, co-founder of the Identity Theft 911 website and former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, offers these tips:
Lock phone with a password. It’s the most basic security step, but one that some people skip. Yes, a hacker could break in anyway, but they may not want to bother.
“Most bad guys will simply move on to the next, easier target,” Levin noted. “It’s a lot easier for a thief to steal a smartphone with no password than it is to work on cracking your phone.”
When shopping on phones, use an application rather than a browser. Most major retail sites offer dedicated shopping applications that help shield users from fraudulent phishing sites and other scammer tricks, Levin said. Just be sure it’s the official app before
Log out. When you’re done checking your credit card balance or checking account, be sure to sign out.
“And never click the box asking the app to save your user ID or password,” Levin suggested Connect to Wi-Fi only when needed it. Turn off the feature on your phone that automatically connects to any nearby Wi-Fi network, Levin recommended. Otherwise, “hackers with the right software can easily hack your phone.”
And close your Bluetooth connection when you’re done.
Delete all personal data before selling or donating your old phone. Look in the settings for an option to “erase all content,” “factory data reset” or something similar.