Cell Phone Identity Theft Scams

Some people feel that a stolen cell phone is really not such a big deal. This is especially true if the phone is not an expensive, high-end model. You just get a replacement, right?

Well, not exactly. An identity theft scam artist can be very resourceful when it comes to getting information from a stolen cell phone.

An example of how this works

Here, we’ll Imagine a person who has recently been victimized through their cell phone name listings. In this scenario, a woman has had her purse stolen. Inside the purse were her credit cards, ATM card, cell phone and driver’s license. Upset, she then calls her husband to inform him of what happened. The husband relates that he received her text message asking about their bank PIN a few minutes prior. When they rush down to the bank, they discover that their checking account had been emptied. You see, the thief had used the phone to text message the “husband” listing in the cell phone numbers. The husband then replied with the PIN number and 20 minutes later, their account was completely empty.

Unsecured cell phone information

Since a cell phone is small and carried from location to location, it’s tempting to treat it like a mini-computer. And, in actuality, that’s really what it is. But consider this – would you treat your home PC or your laptop in the same manner as a cell phone? Of course not. There’s just too much valuable information stored on it and, unlike your home PC, a stolen or lost cell phone is considered to be a common occurrence. However, these days you’re not merely losing a list of contacts that may have taken you years to compile. You may also be losing access to bank account software applications with your personal information already registered and logged in. Not to mention home address details and any saved documents and photos.

Additionally, no one really makes any preparation when it comes to the possibility of losing their cell phone. And, in actuality, no one ever really believes that it will happen to them. There is usually no contingency plan in place for a lost cell phone other than purchasing a new one. But with very little effort, one can make sure that this “small computer”, and its valuable information, is secure.

For example, if you use your cell phone for business, as well as personal reasons, you should know that storing business documents on your phone is a dangerous practice. Leaving business documents off your cell phone eliminates that particular liability. In this way, a stolen cell phone will not reveal either your business dealings or the place where you work. Without this knowledge, a criminal who knows how to perform a good Google search, can’t find the information needed to steal your identity.

Some ways that you can protect yourself

The main thing to consider is not to leave a trail on your cell phone for an identity thief to follow. Here are a few other security measures to consider in order to protect yourself from identity theft.

Don’t make your relationships obvious in your cell phone address book. This means avoiding descriptions and pet names such as: Sweetheart, Hubby, Husband, Wife, Home, Mom, Dad, Honey, etc. If you receive any text that requests PIN number identification, call the number back and confirm the identity of that person. Never send the information back by text messaging without making sure who the caller is. This also holds true for text messages that ask you to meet family members or friends at a specified location. Call them back and confirm that the message came from them.

Some banks will also let you set a limit on how much can be withdrawn from your account, on an ATM, in a single day. If you tend to lose things on a frequent basis or if you’re just concerned over a compromised PIN, you can request that your ATM limit be lowered.

Here are a few other tips:

• Lock your phone with a password
• Never allow a stranger to use your phone
• Never accept an unknown device connection, such as Bluetooth.
• Consider purchasing security software, such as SMobile.

Finally, if your phone is stolen, immediately report it to the police and file a report. This may come in handy should the phone be used for identity theft purposes.

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