Smartphones and tablets help us work, plan activities, and shop on the go, but as mobile buying and banking become more popular, consumers are becoming more vulnerable to identity fraud. So how can you prevent identity theft on your mobile devices? Here are some simple ways to keep your identity and information safe from hackers, particularly when it comes to these increasingly popular gadgets.
Password-protect your devices
A device without a password is like an open invitation to an identity thief to access all your emails and apps, including your banking apps. Arming your device with a password makes it harder for a thief to access the information on it.
- Assign different passwords to each device. This way, if you lose more than one device at the same time, the chances of a thief successfully accessing all of them are greatly reduced.
- Change your passwords frequently and make them difficult, if not impossible, to guess.
- Store your passwords offline. Think twice before allowing the apps on your phone to remember your passwords. Storing your passwords on your device makes it easier for a thief to access your personal financial information.
Don’t overlook virus protection for your smartphone. Mobile phone identity theft occurs right alongside identity theft on other devices.
Odd behavior from a trusted company should be a red light that stops you in your tracks. For example, if you open an email on your tablet from your credit card issuer insisting you reply with your Social Security number, do not reply or click on any link. There is a good chance that this email isn’t actually from who it says it is from.
Report the email as a phishing scam to your email provider and the company in question. (Contact the company via a new email or by phone.) Only share or confirm your personal information when you’re the one who initiated contact.
Update your virus protection
Don’t overlook virus protection for your smartphone. Just like your laptop or PC, your mobile devices should always have the latest operating systems and virus updates. If they become vulnerable to malware or viruses, you are more vulnerable to mobile identify theft. Think of virus protection as an extra layer that helps keep identity thieves at bay.
Use only secured networks
When you connect to a Wi-Fi network, make sure it’s secure and trustworthy. Sharing an open Wi-Fi network allows anyone else on the network the potential opportunity to access your device’s files.
- A secure Wi-Fi network will require a login password. This is not the same as a Wi-Fi network requiring you to agree to the terms and conditions of the network before allowing you access.
- A public secure Wi-Fi connection does not guarantee that your information is safe. If possible, only access your confidential financial information from your secure home network.
- If you have to shop or access financial information from your device while on the go, make sure the Wi-Fi connection is secure and ensure that the website you use is also secure. A secure website begins with https//.
Minimize your cards
Small, fraudulent transactions can easily go undetected when you’re using multiple cards for your online purchases, especially when you’re making quick purchases using your mobile device that you may not track. Simplify your shopping and protect yourself from fraudulent charges by dedicating one card to all your online shopping. Monitor the card’s account activity frequently and quickly report anything unusual that appears on your transaction history.
Mobile theft is an ever-evolving process; as consumers perform more tasks on mobile devices, identity thieves will likely find new ways to steal information. But with some diligence and planning, you can keep your sensitive information intact.
If you believe your identity has been compromised, take action today by downloading our free, step-by-step checklist.
A growing problem
With more than half a billion mobile devices and connections added last year alone and one new identity theft victim every 3 seconds, mobile identify theft could potentially impact a huge percentage of people.