TULSA - Consumer affairs experts say if you access your credit card company or bank through your phone you need to activate, and use, the password protection or you're opening yourself up to any hacker or ID thief.
The same is true if you store your passwords or social security numbers somewhere on your phone or use Bluetooth connections.
In addition to allowing location service to find your phone if it's lost or stolen consider installing remote swiping software so you can quickly get rid of any sensitive information if your phone goes missing.
And don't just close but log out of apps especially those linked to banking or shopping sites. And just as you would on your computer clear that browser history, regularly.
Adam Levin is a former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and co-founder of Credit.com. In his blog he shares these additional details safe-guarding your phone and your information:
To help you prepare your defenses, here are the 10 dumbest things that people do (or fail to do) with their smartphones.
1) No password protection.
If you could "lock" your wallet, wouldn't you? Well, why don't more folks lock their iPhone or Android phone? While it is nowhere CLOSE to being foolproof, a phone password works like the theory of the burglar and the dog: If you take that extra step to protect yourself, most bad guys will simply move on to the next (easier) target. It's a lot easier for a thief to steal a smartphone with no password than it is to work on cracking your phone.
2) Shop online with an Internet browser instead of a shopping app.
If you have the choice between shopping at Amazon.com using your phone's browser versus Amazon's app, use the app! Ditto for eBay, Overstock, and any big retailer that gives you the option of using their app. Unlike browsers, dedicated shopping apps are designed to ward off phishing and other kinds of scams. (Before you download it, just make sure it's really their official app!)
3) Remain logged into banking, PayPal, eBay, and other sensitive apps.
Would you keep your Macy's credit card, Wells Fargo debit card or AmEx on top of your desk at work? How about the front seat of your car? I think not. Then why would you keep your phone permanently logged into those same accounts? When you finish banking or shopping, make sure to log out. And NEVER click the box asking the app to save your user ID or password. Yes, it's a pain in the butt to log in every time. We all tend to value convenience over security. But if a thief gets a hold of a phone that is already logged into sensitive accounts - especially if that phone has no password - it could spell financial disaster. And remember, turning off your devices every now and then can be a good idea.
4) Automatically connect to any available WiFi connections.
Whether you are using your laptop, tablet or smartphone, switch off the feature that connects to nearby WiFi networks automatically. Otherwise, hackers with the right software can easily hack your phone, as security experts have warned us for more than a decade.
5) Leave Bluetooth connections open.
Bluejacking, Bluesnarfing, Bluebugging. These are all words that describe a hacker exploiting the open Bluetooth connection on your phone. While this type of hack requires the intruder to be relatively close to you (less than 30 feet away), the intrusion can occur undetected in a busy airport, hotel lobby, restaurant, or at a conference.
6) Fail to properly purge data from old smartphones.
This is a very common mistake. Many people fail to remove sensitive, personal data from their smartphone before taking it out of service, donating it or selling it. Short of physically shredding your device (which is the only surefire way to delete all your data in an irretrievable manner).
7) Download "free" apps that aren't actually free.
Some Apps that call themselves "free" are actually little more than thinly-disguised data thieves. Downloading one gives the app complete access to your phone, which a fraudster can use to steal your credit card and bank account info. Such apps also can turn your phone into a launch pad from which scammers can attack other peoples' phones with SMS texts and Smishing scams. Be smart and discreet about what you download. Read reviews first, and make sure the apps you download come from reputable sources.
8) Storing sensitive data on phones.
Many people store passwords, pins, Social Security numbers, credit card or bank account information on smartphones. It may be a document created expressly for this purpose, or it could be an email they themselves from their computers. On a phone, emails and downloaded documents are especially easy for thieves to find and steal, especially if the phone is not password protected. Some people even label the document or email "passwords," making them especially easy prey for hackers and scammers. Make sure to delete all documents
and emails containing sensitive information from your phone.
9) Failing to clear browser history.
Not clearing the browser history on your phone can be just as dangerous as staying logged into the website of your bank or your favorite store (see mistake #3). By retracing your steps, a phone thief can use your history to hijack your accounts, steal your money and wreck havoc.
10) No remote wiping software.
Various apps and services enable you to locate your phone, and also wipe its data clean, if it's lost or stolen. Tech-savvy hackers may be able to disengage these applications, but it's just one more layer of protection you can use to reduce your risks if you ever lose your phone.