In Canada and across the globe, consumers are clamoring for smartphones and other mobile devices. By 2015, more than 10 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices will have been shipped around the world, according to ABI Research.
With the influx of web-connected devices, a long-standing threat is expanding into new avenues: identity theft. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), identity fraud claimed 11,095 Canadian victims in 2009, totaling losses of more than $10 million.
HUB's tips on securing your phones and devices
- Create a password to protect your home screen. This lock feature serves as an added defense against ID thieves in the event that your device is lost or stolen. For tips on creating a hard-to-crack password, check out our articleHow Easily Can your PINs and Passwords be Cracked?
- Be wary about what applications you download. Some mobile apps can be infected with malware, and may compromise the security of your device.
- Regularly update your operating platform. Android, Apple and other operating system creators are constantly improving these platforms to root out bugs and boost performance.
- If you use mobile banking apps, it's best not to access the sensitive information over unsecured networks. Don't store any account or ID numbers within the app.
- Mobile shoppers, if you access ecommerce websites on your phone and have stored your payment information, make sure you log out of those accounts after every visit. It may seem inconvenient now, but it will prevent a lot of headaches if your phone ever falls into the wrong hands.
- Use common sense about what you store on your phone. As the RCMP point out, ID thieves want information such as birth dates, PINs, Social Insurance numbers and more. If it's information that you wouldn't want made public, think twice before putting it on your mobile device.
As the CAFC notes, "There is no reason to be paranoid; there's just reason to be careful. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft."
Investing in identity theft protection coverage can help you avoid the myriad problems ID theft victims face. Premiums for this coverage are typically no more than $100 and can offer protection against credit or identity theft, cheque forgery and other related issues. Talk to a HUB broker about this and other available consumer protection coverage.