Smartphones and Identity Theft - Should You Be Concerned?

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It seems like smartphones such as a Blackberry or an iPhone are tools that can do just about anything. There are nearly 46 million people using these high-tech mobile phones in the U.S. Sales of smartphones doubled in 2010. They currently represent 20% of all cellular phone sales. But these nifty gadgets can also cause huge issues if they are lost or stolen.

The downside to all of the ways you can use your mobile phone is that criminals now have the opportunity to steal valuable personal information. Your cell phone may actually pose a greater risk of having your identity stolen than your computer.

Obviously, it's much easier for a criminal to steal a phone than a personal computer of laptop, and there could be just as much sensitive data on your phone.

Some applications for smartphones involve mobile banking and can even allow you to deposit checks without visiting the bank. But that means a criminal could find a way to obtain your checking account number and drain your funds. That makes losing a smartphone the new way to lose your wallet.

The research firm TowerGroup reports that nearly 18 million people used some type of mobile banking in 2010. That number is expected to exceed 53 million people by the year 2013. That gives criminals many more targets for identity theft.

The first step toward protecting your identity on your phone is to set up a password. It seems simple, but a web-based consumer group estimates that 67% of smartphone users do not use a password.

Even with a password on your phone, a smart criminal might be able to figure out a way to get inside. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted test that found they were able to lift a phone's password by examining finger smudges on the screen.

Never leave your cell phone unattended. When phones were stolen in the past, the thief couldn't do much more than make calls with it. Now you're entire life could be turned upside down.

You can also protect your identity by staying off of unsecured public wireless connections - particularly when you are accessing personal information. Avoid downloading applications, games or ringtones from websites that don't seem trustworthy. Experts say that smartphones running on the Android operating system are most susceptible to identity theft attacks.

Finally, remember to delete everything off of your smartphone before you throw it out when you get a new phone.


Kasey Steinbrinck is the web content creator for online check printer Check Advantage. Visit the site today and find out how you can get cheap personal checks and business checks.

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