In American history, there are few electronic devices that we have grown
more dependent on than our cell phones.
And, fewer yet that are misplaced or forgotten more often.
Because the cell phone is constantly with us, these gadgets can be lost
in a variety of places, including malls, retail stores, even churches and
other places of worship.
Depending on our method of travel, we often misplace our phones in cars,
buses or on subways.
In large cities like Chicago, cell phones are the leading electronic device
found most often in the back seats of taxi cabs. In fact, according to a PC
World article, over 80,000 of these gadgets are found in Windy City taxies
alone each year.
While most cell phones eventually make their way back to their owners, a
growing number eventually end up stolen.
In the past, when our cell phones were used only as a means of communication,
a thief often stole a phone to rack up hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of
dollars in fraudulent calls.
While this is still popular a method for most cell phone thieves, there may be
more ominous reasons for a thief to want your phone.
Depending on the information you’ve stored on your phone, a stolen phone can
actually increase your risk of identity theft.
When you think about it, our cell phone contains a lot of information about us
and the people we know. We often store:
such as names, addresses and phone numbers
of our family, friends and business acquaintances.
including bank and credit card numbers, safety
deposit box information and others. A few of us store more sensitive information,
such as a spouse or child’s Social Security Number.
such as Personal Identification Numbers (PINs),
passwords, along with other codes used to access our private information.
In the best case scenario, thieves could use the phone’s contact list to sell to
mass marketing firms or the growing market of data brokers found on the internet.
If thieves finds enough information from your cell phone to piece together, they can easily steal your
identity, apply for credit, or wipe out your bank account.
In the event that your cell phone is lost, or presumed stolen, here’s what to do:
to suspend your cell phone service. The
sooner, the better! You’ll be liable for any calls placed on the phone before the
service suspended, so it’s best to hurry.
with the police in the county you believe the cell phone
was taken. You’ll be issued a case number for the report. Keep it handy! Your
carrier will most likely request it, and if your phone was insured, that agency will need
a copy too.
such as banks, credit bureaus and
other financial businesses if the cell phone contained sensitive information regarding
business with that agency. Have them flag your account. This should deter most
criminals from gaining access to your finances.
For now, the best way to protect your cell phone and personal information is to lock
the phone after every use.
Sure, it’s an inconvenience. But, it’s also the easiest way to prevent any unauthorized
access to both your phone’s service and data.