The New York State Attorney General and the San Francisco District Attorney, as part of the Secure Our Smartphones program, issued a set of safety tips and advice for consumers while shopping during the holiday season. While nobody wants to be a victim of identity theft and fraud, the fact is 113 smart phones are stolen every minute in the United States.
During 2012, more than 1.6 million Americans had their smart phones stolen. Smart phone robberies have increased so much that there is a term for it: "Apple picking." The ten worst cities for smart phone robberies are Philadelphia (PA), Seattle, Oakland (CA), Long Beach (CA), Newark (NJ), Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York, and Boston.
The Secure Our Smartphones program is an international coalition of prosecutors, police chiefs, state and city comptrollers, and public safety activists committed to presuring the industry to find more effective ways to fight smart phone robberies that often turn violent. Program co-chairs include New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
10 tips to protect yourself and the sensitive, personal information on your smart phone:
- Prevention: be aware of your surroundings. Don't walk and text. Keep your smart phone in your pocket, purse, or backpack.
- Prevention: don't lend your smart phone to strangers.
- Prevention: keep your smart phone out of sight when not in use. Don't leave your smart phone on a table in public.
- Use the security features on your smart phone: password-protect your smart phone or mobile device.
- Write down and store in a safe place at home the model number, serial number, and unique device ID number for your mobile device.
- Install security apps, so you can remotely track, lock, and delete the data on your phone if it is stolen. Apple users: upgrade to iOS7 and enable the "Find My iPhone" feature. Android users: activate the "Android Device Manager" feature. Consider third-party security apps.
- If your phone is stolen: respond quickly, just as if a credit card was stolen. Report the theft to your wireless communications provider.
- If your smart phone is stolen: file a police reort and include data from #5 in the report. You'll need a copy of the police report when filing insurance claims. And, this report will help local law enforcement monitor popular mobile device re-sale websites.
- If your phone is stolen: activate and use the security apps you installed. (See #6.)
- Cloud services: Applie iPhone users should sign into their Cloud account, go to "Find My iPhone," and set your phone to Lost Mode.
Smart phone usage for online banking is about 21 percent, and about 15 percent for mobile payment apps. Recently, Google launched a prepaid card with its mobile wallet app. If you are one of these mobile users, then not only are the above security tips critical, but it's wise to check the contract or agreement with the bank or payment service. If your smart phone is stolen, you may have additional notification responsibilities.