Avoid fraud: Password protect your phone

The rise in popularity of smart phones with social media applications can put consumers at risk of fraud.

The Province, Consumer Protection BC and the Better Business Bureau are teaming up during Fraud Prevention Month to provide tips to help British Columbians get smart about their smart phone usage.

According to a recent study by Javelin Research and Strategy, smart phone users are at greater risk of identity theft and fraud than average consumers. Sixty-two per cent of smart phone owners do not use a password to protect their home screens, 32 per cent save log-in information on their phones and a third of users do not have the most current security updates on their operating systems.

A typical user scenario:

Samantha carries her smart phone with her everywhere. She runs all of her favourite social networks from her phone which is loaded up with all of the latest apps, including one allowing her to do all of her banking on the go. Samantha also keeps all of her personal information on her smart phone so that it is handy – phone numbers, addresses, birthdates and even passwords. One day Samantha leaves her phone on the bus. Not only is Samantha’s personal information now available to any stranger who picks up her phone, she’s now a potential victim of fraud and identify theft.

Here are some tips to protect you
and your family and become smart phone savvy:

  • Get the latest operating system for your phone so your security is up-to-date.
  • Add a password to your phone for access, so if it is lost a person does not have access to your phone and your personal identifiers.
  • Password-protect everything, preferably with unique passwords for each social media service.
  • Look for ‘remote wiping’ programs in the user manual of your smart phone so in case of loss you can remove and destroy all data from your phone from a remote location.
  • Check applications for geo-tagging that allow you to “tag” a photo or video with your current location. You can turn this “tagging” option off in applications if you feel uncomfortable broadcasting your location publically.
  • To avoid risk of financial loss, do not do your banking over public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Be sure all the apps you download come from legitimate vendors. Check user reviews and learn about what the application needs to access on your smart phone.
    For example: If a wallpaper app needs access to your contact list, there’s probably a virus attached to the application.
  • ‘Start with Trust’ when dealing with businesses and companies you’ve never heard of by researching them at: www.mbc.bbb.org
  •  To stay informed about possible scams and to warn others:
    Visit Consumer Protection BC on Facebook at:
    www.facebook.com/ConsumerProtectionBC
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Cathy Earle

Cathy Earle is a WordPress Web Developer and Internet Consultant. She has been developing websites and consulting clients in Australia and North America for over 15 years.
Her degree in Public Relations and Management Communication, in addition to a 12 year career as owner of an independent publishing company, have proven beneficial to her work today — navigating the vast world of the internet and online marketing.

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