no image

Identity Theft: Protect your Personal Information on Mobile Devices

December 20, 2017 Useful Articles

Smartphones are embedded into daily routines. Not only do the devices keep tabs on where people go, what they buy and what they search for, but they also store credit card information, passwords and emails with private information. Because smartphones have become a natural part of everyday life, it is easy to forget how much personal information is stored on the device.

Follow these steps to help protect personal data on mobile devices and prevent identity theft and financial fraud.

  • Guard against identity theft by protecting passwords. Download a reputable password manager application to shield passwords from identity thieves. Weak passwords and practices, including using the same password for multiple accounts, can make it easy for identity thieves to access great amounts of personal information quickly.  A secure password manager allows smartphone users to protect and create a variety of strong passwords for different accounts without the hassle of having to remember it all.
  • Avoid financial fraud by safeguarding payment information. Though storing payment information on smartphones allows for convenient one-click checkouts while shopping online, saving financial information on mobile devices can lead to financial fraud. Opt out of “save password” and “save information” preferences to increase security during financial transactions. Mobile shoppers should also be wary of shopping online using public Wi-Fi, which is often an unsecure network that opens up channels for identity thieves to enter.
  • Keep personal information and emails private through encryption. Certain smartphones automatically encrypt data when passcode protection is turned on. Select devices even have the option to delete all stored data if the passcode is entered incorrectly 10 times in a row. Encryption can protect text messages, emails, attachments and application data, and special processes allow for even stronger encryption and security. Other mobile phones have an on/off switch for encryption. With encryption turned on, certain capabilities might run slightly slower than usual because the phone has to decipher an extra layer of information, but the additional wait signals stronger protection for private information.
  • Prevent a stolen identity by not oversharing.  Identity thieves are skilled at putting together pieces of the puzzle. Any information that cybercriminals can gather through social media statuses, photo uploads and location check-ins makes identity theft easier to carry out. According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, names, mailing addresses and phone numbers are the most common data collected by shopping apps. The report also shows that between 48 to 67 percent of shopping apps collected location information, and 11 to 33 percent of shopping apps collected Social Security numbers. Since default settings on most apps divulge bits of personal information for a more convenient experience, smartphone users should make an effort to turn off or limit settings that increase the exchange of information, including location tracking and automatic synchronization for photos.
  • Protect personal data from afar. No one anticipates losing their smartphone, but it is important to be prepared for such an incident. Smartphone users should consider downloading a trusted app to locate their smartphone in case it is lost or stolen. Official apps also allow the owner of the mobile device to remotely erase all personal data stored on the smartphone, which reduces the risk of stolen information leading to identity theft.

Tightening security settings is a great way to start safeguarding yourself from identity theft while using your smartphone.

Credits: Metlife UAE