Stolen Phone – Stolen Identity?

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.