If you’re like me, you’re increasingly dependent on cell phones for more than just making calls. I also use my Blackberry for e-mails, to schedule events on my calendar, surf the Internet, and even to write blog posts! But the downside to having that little computer clipped on my belt is, just like the computer on my desk or on my lap, there are shady people out there ready, willing, and able to exploit it. Cell phones are hacked on a daily basis and thieves are using the information stored on them to steal identities and run up phone bills.
Cell phones are being reported as lost or stolen at alarming rates each year. Thieves sell them for about $50 but they also have the potential to sell your identity to the highest bidder. Additionally, if your phone winds up in a thief’s hands, you’re not only losing all your contact information but also potentially facing a very high phone bill. According to The Better Business Bureau, some theft victims report bills of more than $25,000!
Even if your phone never leaves your side, it’s still available to hackers — or “phreakers.” When walking past you, phreakers can easily hack your cell phone, listen in on your calls, or steal personal information without your knowledge by using Bluetooth wireless connections. Bluetooth allows connections between cell phones and hands-free headsets or PCs. If your Bluetooth connection isn’t password protected, that guy with a laptop sitting on the other end of the park bench could be hacking your phone while you speak. If you use a memory card, and it has personal information on it, that information could also be vulnerable. What information do YOU want available to identity thieves?
Protect yourself from identity thieves and cell phone hackers.
Always know where your cell phone is located. If other people can’t get their hands on it, they’re going to have a much harder time trying to take advantage of it. Diligence doesn’t sleep.
If you suspect that your cell phone is lost or you think it’s been hacked, contact your provider ASAP! You need to discontinue service immediately before the thief can run up a big bill. Be sure and check your provider’s policy on stolen or hacked phones because they may offer to cover any charges if your phone is stolen, but they are not required to do so.
Use a password to protect your cell phone. You have a password for your computer (or you should), shouldn’t you use the same protection for your phone?
Avoid storing personal information on your phone. Consider very carefully what you store on your phone or Blackberry and why. If it would create a big disaster by falling into someone else’s hands, don’t store it. In the event your phone IS stolen, at least you can prevent the thief from accessing your important information.
Disable Bluetooth. Turn off your Bluetooth connection when you’re not using it to significantly decrease a phreaker’s opportunity to hack your phone with a nearby wireless connection.
Never open files or text messages from strangers. Those attachments could be anything from a keystroke logger to a virus that broadcasts your personal information.
The bulk of this information was emailed to me by Equifax. As a member of Credit Watch Gold, I enjoy a lot of benefits, like receiving information similar to what you’ve read here. If you’ve ever considered a credit monitoring service, I highly recommend you Get Equifax Credit Watch Gold 3-in-1 Now!
It’s just one of the wise choices I have personally made to help protect my identity.
photo credit: Daffydus