To you, your smartphone is more than a high-tech device; it’s a pocket-sized extension of yourself. To thieves, smartphones are part of the business plan, a way to fetch money and sensitive personal data. Our mobile devices are so important, many of us are willing to pay top dollar for their safe return—in a poll by the mobile security firm Lookout, one-third of theft victims said they would pay $1,000 to retrieve their stolen smartphones. And if you’re an iPhone user, you’re more likely to have your device stolen. Apple Insider reports iPhones are 65 percent more likely to go missing over other smartphones.
Don’t think about ditching your iPhone for a larceny-free option either, unless you’re willing to go back to a ’90s-era data-free flip phone. About 3.1 million American consumers were victims of smartphone theft in 2013, according to Consumer Reports. Although iPhones were the most commonly targeted, switching brands isn’t the answer; all mobile devices are subject to theft. Instead, take extra precautions to protect your device and the personal information it contains.
The miscreants who know the ins and outs of the black market resale racket are appropriately dubbed “Apple pickers.” These thieves have little trouble wiping personal information from a device without triggering a tracking device. If a phone isn’t password-protected, it can easily be reset by its new user. Your iPhone does provide helpful tracking features—but if it’s not location-enabled, your device is good as gone.
Safeguard Your Phone
From bank account logins and passwords to home addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers, our phones store our most sensitive private information. Additionally, the memories captured and stored in our devices are priceless, and losing them can be devastating. This data is so important that according to the Lookout survey, 68 percent of smartphone owners are willing to risk their personal safety to ensure a timely reunion with their digital other half. By taking these proactive security measures, you won’t have to risk your life to recoup your valuable data.
Start with identity theft protection. Many companies offer credit monitoring, identity monitoring, and fraud alerts for suspicious activity. This goes a long way if your sensitive personal data is compromised. Hackers can ruin your credit, take out fraudulent loans, and more.
Set a passcode. This is one of the simplest and oft-ignored security tips. Block access to your phone by setting a passcode to the home screen.
Turn on Find My iPhone. Approximately 1.4 million smartphones were lost or stolen and never recovered last year, according to Consumer Reports. Turn on this important security feature—it gives authorities a better chance of recovering your device.
Pay attention. Forty-four percent of smartphones were stolen after owners forgot them at a public place like a restaurant, bar or club. Ensure your phone is put away in your front pocket, purse or anywhere except the table top.