Los Angeles, CA (PressExposure) July 24, 2011 -- The increase in popularity of smartphones has opened up a whole new avenue for criminals who steal personal information. With many users treating their smartphones like laptops, the devices can be loaded with sensitive data that could make it easy for the owner's identity to be stolen if the phone falls into the wrong hands. Security experts recommend a few very simple steps to help smartphone users reduce their risk of falling victim to identity theft.
There is one very easy thing that all smartphone users can do to protect their personal information, yet an astounding 67% of them admit they do not bother doing: use a password. Most smartphones now come with the option of setting a personal identification number that must be used to access the phone, but the majority of the device owners never set up this feature. The primary reason is the inconvenience of having to enter a PIN to use the phone. As the identity theft experts at IdentityTheftLabs point out, the inconvenience of entering a four digit number is nothing compared to the time and expense of dealing with a stolen identity. As with any other PIN, the smartphone password should not consist of obvious numbers such as birthdays or the last four digits of a social security number.
One in five smartphone owners report having their phone lost or stolen. This means that 20% of all users will run the risk of someone gaining access to the passwords, contacts, financial information, and other sensitive data stored on their devices. The best advice is not to store highly sensitive personal information such as account numbers and financial data on a smartphone at all. Even when the user has taken the step to password protect their phone, there is the possibility that a thief can hack into it and mine it for data. Identity Theft Labs recommends that a smartphone owner contact their service provider immediately if their phone is lost or stolen. Not only should the phone number be canceled, but the service provider should lock the phone, if possible. This may help to prevent the theft of the private information stored on the device, so time is of the essence.
It is not only lost or stolen smartphones that can pose a risk of identity theft. When the consumer decides to replace his or her phone, it is critical to dispose of the old one carefully. The manufacturer of the smartphone can instruct the consumer on how to clear out the memory of the device before discarding or donating it so that their personal data will no longer be stored in it. Because of the increased risk for identity theft when using a smartphone, some owners may also wish to consider enrolling in an identity theft protection service like LifeLock, Identity Guard, Trusted ID, or Suze Orman's Identity Protector for an additional measure of security.
For more information on the latest identity theft threats, visit http://www.IdentityTheftLabs.com. They are a trusted source of expert reviews on all of the top identity theft protection services, including LifeLock, Identity Guard, and Trusted ID. Consumers can contact the security specialists at email@example.com to learn how an identity theft service can protect them from being one of the 10 million Americans annually who are faced with the devastating effects of identity theft.