Protect yourself from iPhone theft
The moment I even think my smartphone is missing I freak out. My heart starts to pound. My breathing increases. My stomach feels sick. Does it sound like I have a mobile phone addiction problem? I wouldn’t be the first and chances are you’ve felt the same way.
Here’s some news that will make my fellow phone addicts shudder: The Federal Communications Commission says smartphone theft is up across the country. What a scary thought, especially considering the majority of us have our email and social media accounts linked to our phones. And the pictures! Oh, all the pictures stored on our phones! Friends, according to experts, it’s these very things that smart phones so attractive to thieves - instant access to personal information, social media platforms, and bank account information stored on your banking app! Once thieves harvest your personal information, they resell your expensive phone to make more money! It's a win-win for the bad guys.
Security experts have warned that thieves can even brazenly nab phones right out of people's hands! They strike when you’re intently checking email, or watching a YouTube video on it and not paying attention to your surroundings. Other times, smartphone thefts have been downright violent.
How can you protect your phone from thieves?
Rick Avery, head of Securitas Security Services advises, “In order to physically protect your cell phone (and other mobile devices), keep it close to you: don't leave it unattended, out of sight, or exposed in your car when you're not in it.” Avery recommends carrying your phone in an inside jacket pocket or bag, rather than in a case that is clipped to your belt, which can be easily pulled off or even fall off. On the other hand, if you use a clip to secure it inside a pocket or bag, there’ll be less chance of the device being lost or stolen. But most importantly Avery warns, “When you’re out and about, remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially when you have your cell phone in hand: don’t let your phone conversation, your texting, or the device itself become a distraction.”
It’s possible that even your best efforts won’t thwart a theft, so get arm yourself with Avery’s tips on how to protect your smartphone while it’s still in your hands!
- Turn your smartphone’s pass-code lock on. This will require you (or anyone else) to punch in a 4-digit pass-code before the phone can be operated.
- If your phone has an auto-lock feature, activate it. This will automatically lock your phone after a designated period of time, and requires the previously mentioned 4 digit pass-code to unlock it. Consider having the auto-lock set on either one or two minutes in order to reduce inconvenience to you, as well the phone’s exposure to risk.
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- You can assign a PIN (personal identification number) to your SIM (subscriber identity module) card, so that it can’t be used in other phones without the PIN. Note: Choosing a secure SIM PIN is an important part of keeping the information located on the SIM card safe. You should take time to ensure that you have chosen a PIN that is both hard to guess by others, but easy for you to recall. Avoid choosing PINs that utilize the same digits found in your ATM or credit card PINs. Using birthdays and the last four digits of Social Security numbers also is not advised.
- Record your smartphone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and serial number. The IMEI number is a 15-digit number used by wireless carriers to identify your phone. Both numbers can be found on the back of your smartphone (sometimes inside the battery compartment). If a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can call his or her network provider and instruct them to "blacklist" the phone using its IMEI number. This renders the phone useless on that network and sometimes other networks too, regardless of whether or not the phone's SIM is changed.
- As you would back up the data on your computer, frequently back up the data on your smartphone. It is a simple, but crucial, way to insure the safety of what may be a massive amount of data that you wouldn’t want to lose. However, be aware of the fact that the method of doing so varies by platform.
If your phone is stolen, change all your passwords on all your accounts linked to your phone. Be sure to report the theft to your police department and notify your wireless provider immediately.
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