Yikes! Beware ID Theft From Your Phone

Your computer isn't your only risk for identity theft. Your smartphone is also vulnerable.

Harris Interactive conducted an online survey for LifeLock Inc., a company that specializes in identity theft protection, asking more than 2,000 smartphone users about their smartphone security habits and assessing their knowledge of and participation in potentially risky behavior.

Bottom line: Despite the prevalence of identity theft, most smartphone users just don't see their phones as a big risk. Even more alarming, many smartphone users reported frequently sharing data that can leave them susceptible to identity theft and other identity fraud dangers.

Users are engaging in several compromising behaviors that may leave them at risk to fraudulent activity:

  • 44 percent of smartphone users have a personal banking or finance app on their smartphone.

  • 35 percent of those who have a social networking app on their smartphone allow the app to know the GPS location of their phone when downloading the app.

  • 36 percent of those surveyed have not utilized protection such as a PIN, tracking software and/or remote wiping capabilities for their smartphone.

"It's clear that the majority of those surveyed don't take simple steps to secure their devices," said Neil Chase, vice president of education with LifeLock. "And it varies with age. The survey found that people ages 18 to 34 are significantly more likely to use the same password for every app than those who are 35 to 54, and people 55 and over are even more careful."

LifeLock recommends the following actions to secure your smartphone and protect against identity theft:
1. Protect the device with a strong password. Do not use your date of birth or your banking PIN as a password.

2. Do not allow downloaded apps to access GPS location.

3. Ensure all apps use different usernames and passwords.

4. Wipe all personal information from the device before replacing or upgrading.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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