Is Your Smartphone Putting You at Financial Risk?

iStock_000016170470XSmallEver since I bought my first iPhone earlier this year, I’ve been struck with how convenient it is. I can keep in contact with friends and family easily. I can check my email whenever I need to, and even conduct business no matter where I am. My smartphone even served as a boarding pass the last time I got on an airplane.

My smartphone has even made it easier for me to do my banking. Remote check deposit means that it’s been months since I’ve set foot inside my brick and mortar bank. I can quickly and easily transfer money between accounts. From shopping to investing, my smartphone provides me with the ability to do almost anything from anywhere.

But all of this information, stored on my smartphone, also makes me a little bit nervous. A great deal of my life is right there — in a device that can easily be lost or stolen.

What Information Can Identity Thieves Learn from Your Smartphone?

An identity thief can use the information found on your smartphone to impersonate you, opening accounts in your name. Consider: Your name, email address, and phone number can likely be found somewhere on your smartphone. On top of that, if you have social media apps on your phone, a fraudster with your stolen phone can learn a lot from you just by going through your Facebook and Twitter apps.

If you have your location services turned on for your photos/camera, it’s possible for someone to see where you have taken certain pictures. They might even be able to figure out where you live. If you have a GPS app with your home labeled, it’s even easier for a criminal to drive right to your house.

If you save all of your password information on your financial apps, it’s ridiculously easy for someone to use your stolen smartphone to drain your accounts. Saved credit card information on shopping apps encourages thieves to make purchases with ease. From pretending to be you and trashing your credit, to outright stealing your money, the unscrupulous can use your smartphone to financially devastate you.

Protect Your Smartphone

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself is to make sure that this information isn’t on your phone. For many consumers, though, that isn’t practical. And it defeats the purpose of having a smartphone to begin with. While you might not be able to fully protect your smartphone, there are some things you can do to make it a little more difficult for would-be thieves and identity fraudsters:

  • Password protection: You can password protect your phone, slowing a thief down. Make it hard to get into your phone and access all of that information.
  • Phone finder: My iPhone comes with “Find My Phone,” which I activated. This can help you locate your phone, so that you know whether you just lost it, or whether it’s been stolen.
  • Remote shutdown: There are apps that allow you to remotely shutdown your phone. You can turn it off, or even erase all of the data on the phone so that it becomes little more than a paperweight.
  • Don’t save passwords on apps: It’s annoying for me to have to enter my password on my banking app each time I use it, but it’s better than just letting anyone who happens to be holding my phone (and has got through the password on the lock screen) access to my bank account. Consider requiring passwords to access your more sensitive apps.
  • Don’t save credit cards: Don’t keep your credit cards on file with an app.

 

Also, make sure you follow the same procedures you would if you lost your purse or wallet. Have a list of your credit card and bank account issuers and their numbers someplace safe so you can notify them if your phone is lost, and you are worried that your accounts might be compromised.

In many ways, you do need to treat your smartphone like your purse or wallet. After all, that’s what it’s starting to resemble.

Posted in Money Tips permalink

About Miranda (Staff Writer)

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in business, personal finance, and investing. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites, and her work has been mentioned in, and linked to from, several online and offline publications. Miranda also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Comments

Is Your Smartphone Putting You at Financial Risk? — 9 Comments

    • A girl can dream. We finally pulled the trigger when we got rid of the landline. Between getting rid of the landline, and dropping down a package, we are about even on monthly costs.

    • So often, we get caught up in the awesome gadgetry, and forget about the other implications. Even though some of these things are cool and convenient, it’s important to take a step back and recognize some of the dangers.

  1. Hey Miranda and thanks for the informative and eye-opening post 🙂

    I actually do not own a smart phone or even a cell phone. I much prefer my land-line phone and answering machine. I personally have nothing against such devices, it’s just that I don’t have a need for their function in my everyday life. If I need to do banking…I go to my bank across the street, and when I want to take a photo, I have a digital camera for such things. I do have a personal Facebook page which I easily access from home or if I am out, with my little netbook!

    I’m sure I would find it really cool if I did own a smartphone, but I know myself, I would spend way too much time on it and then nothing would get done 🙂

    Take care and thanks again for an enjoyable post. All the best.

    Lyle

    • I think it depends on your lifestyle, and what you need. I love that you make your life work for you. And it must be nice to be able to get away from the phone. Sometimes, with my smart phone, I catch myself thinking I need to be connected all the time.

  2. I prefer to do all my banking at home, not on my cell phone. Every time you use a public Wi-Fi connection, you can make yourself vulnerable to high-tech thieves who can steal your passwords, personal and financial information.

  3. There is an app called iPassword which I downloaded; have not used it yet but managed to set two rows of passwords which I have forgotten. For me the biggest financial risk of all things ‘i’ (iPhone, iPad) I have is the ease which which I can buy stuff (Amazon is a big danger zone for me).

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