Saturday, June 22, 2013

How To Prevent Identity Theft If Your Smartphone or Mobile Device Is Stolen

I read a really good article in Kiplinger's recently about the rise of identity theft.  One of the key points of an increasing cause of identity theft is the loss of smartphones, mobile phones, and tablets.  Losing a laptop is still a problem, too, of course, but perhaps a little less common.  I unfortunately left behind a tablet while transiting airports last weekend.  It wasn't terribly expensive, but since I had just bought it, just as annoying.  However, it wasn't until I got back home that I had realized the real disaster potential with having lost it.

Since I am a growing fan of "apps," I had downloaded Amazon's App Store for the Google Droid tablet I had.  It seamlessly synced to my existing Amazon account, which also happens to have my credit card info.  The other day, I received an email from Amazon saying that I had downloaded a game that I had clearly not, since the device was no longer in my possession as of a few days prior and the time stamp was for that same day I received the email.  Oh, I got nervous.  Fortunately, the game was free, but it would have been easy to download other apps that were not.  I immediately went into action.

I was able to log on quickly to my Amazon account and changed the password.  Then, I went to the App Store page and started deleting, deactivating everything I could.  Next, it was Linkedin, Pandora, and Google password changes.  Same thing, I went to the Play Store and tried to delete, deauthorize deactivate, "d" everything I could.  I feel more confident now.  I mean, really, if you are going to use someone else's device, can you at least have the courtesy to get a free account yourself?

The Kiplinger's article reminded me of a service from Lookout Mobile (and I am sure there are others) that allows one to locate and delete device content remotely.  I just experimented with trying to locate my wife's Droid and it worked perfectly.  From there, you can make it "scream," yes, the audible type, and even wipe data.  I didn't wipe data, but I tested out the scream feature.  Annoying as all get up!  Perfect!

Bottom line, protect yourself from potential identity theft or other privacy invasion by getting a security service for your phone.  Lookout has a lot of free features, including what I had just described.  It will also scan downloads for viruses or other malware.

Stay safe.

--The Edge