This is a guest post by Gregory Adams
The number of new mobile phones being purchased within the UK is rapidly increasing — according to the New Media Trend Watch, there are currently 30.9 million smartphone users within the UK. With new phones like the BlackBerry Q10 (Selfridges’ fastest selling consumer electronic ever according to The Verge) it is only going to continue to be an increasing trend. As this trend increases, though, there is also a growing concern about the risk of identity theft and fraud. The storage of private information on phones and use of online services requiring credit card information, passport numbers and other personal details increases the potential for your details to be stolen and used.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media programs are increasing the amount of personal information people are sharing over the internet. With people using their mobile phones to “check in” on Facebook, photograph their locations and publicise this information to a world-wide audience, it is becoming increasingly easier for criminals to track and steal the identities of individuals.
In an interview with the Guardian, ex-conman Frank Abagnale discussed the dangers of publishing personal information on Facebook, saying that if you state where you were born and date of birth, you can be easily found and your identity is instantly under threat. Abagnale states it is up to individuals to control what information they release in order to protect themselves from identity theft.
Storing personal information, bank account details and passwords on your mobile phone is an easy way for criminals to steal your identity. According to the Telegraph, an average of 264 mobile phones were reported stolen daily in 2012 and only around 1% of those were retrieved. If your phone is stolen any stored personal data is easily accessible and your identity is instantly under threat.
How to Protect Yourself
There are a number of precautions you can take to decrease the risk of identity theft.
• Choose strong passwords and change them frequently. According to the BBC, 55% of adult internet users in the UK use the same password for all of their accounts. Doing this will allow identity thieves to gain access to all of your accounts once they have hacked your password. Choose a password that has random numbers and letters. Never pick an obvious word or use your name or birth date.
• Beware of unsolicited emails from your bank. Banks will never ask you for your password or personal details via email. If you receive an email requesting information, call or visit to your bank to check the validity of the request.
• Do not store your personal information on your mobile. Recording your pin number, passwords and personal information on your mobile phone is an easy target for identity theft. If someone steals your phone, they can gain access to your accounts and money.
• Check your bank statements. Regularly check your statements for any unusual activity and report any suspicious payments to your bank. The earlier you notice the problem, the better.
Been a Victim of Identity Fraud?
If you suspect you have been a victim of identity fraud, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk and they will be able to provide you with advice on what to do next.
Greg is a technology and mobile trend freelance writer with a penchant for rollerblading.