This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

5 Tips to Protect Your Phone From I.D. Theft

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Identity fraud thieves are increasingly targeting smartphones as a gateway to grabbing consumers' private financial data.

If you don't act to safeguard your smartphone from I.D. thieves, you could be taking a big risk, but some preparation and a little bit of help from financial services companies are good places to start protecting yourself.

Mobile banking is on the rise, and that means a new place for fraudsters to get at peoples' financial data.

According to a report from Javelin Research, about 8.1 million Americans were victimized by identity theft in 2010 to the tune of $37 billion. The average cost per consumer was $631.

Sometimes simply waiting too long to address an I.D. theft is what will really cost you.

"The longer identity fraud goes undetected, the more expensive and difficult to resolve it tends to be for the consumer. Therefore, it is vital for consumers to monitor their accounts frequently and to partner with their financial institutions to help prevent, detect and resolve fraud," Javelin says in its report. "About half of identity frauds are detected by consumers, and half are detected by third parties (45% vs. 55%)."

>>How to Connect to Activities You Love

With smartphone use growing by 40% last year from 2010, the potential for increased identity theft activity will rise too.

To guard personal data on your smartphone:

  • Make sure your bank's firewall is strong. Don't sign up for mobile banking unless you have assurance from your financial institution that it can protect you against viruses and security breaches. Consider the Zeus virus, which recently haunted Android phone users: Hackers were able to use the virus to access Droid users' personal banking data without them even knowing it.
  • Lock your phone. Lock your smartphone when you're not using it. Ask your phone provider about password protection settings for your phone if you don't know how to set up the feature. Then choose a password that's not obvious.
  • Work with your bank. If you're doing some mobile banking, make sure you sign up for automatic alerts when money leaves your account, or at worst, for "unusual" withdrawals (say, $250 or more).
  • Disable text notifications from your bank or credit card. Many financial institutions communicate with customers via text messages, and while banks aren't likely to include your account number, other data such as your address may be visible to anyone who looks at your phone. Make sure to erase all texts from your bank or card carrier as soon as you've read them, or disable the function altogether.
  • Have an emergency plan if your phone is lost or stolen. If your smartphone disappears, don't take anything for granted. Chances are it has an "enable remote tracking" feature where your carrier can track its whereabouts. Find it and activate it now.
  • In general, experts say you should also be cautious about downloading free apps, which may come from disreputable sources. You're giving away private data to strangers every time you install one, and you have no way of knowing whether the app's publisher is legit or not. Always check the app's security features before pressing the button. If they don't offer any, don't download the app.

    Protecting the personal data inside your smartphone should be priority one, but combine it with a close monitoring of your financial accounts. If you let things slide, your next call may be to your bank's claim processing service.

    >To submit a news tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.

    Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

    Select the service that is right for you!

    COMPARE ALL SERVICES
    Action Alerts PLUS
    Try it NOW

    Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

    Product Features:
    • $2.5+ million portfolio
    • Large-cap and dividend focus
    • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
    • Weekly roundups
    TheStreet Quant Ratings
    Try it NOW
    Only $49.95/yr

    Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

    Product Features:
    • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
    • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
    • A custom stock screener
    • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
    Stocks Under $10
    Try it NOW

    David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

    Product Features:
    • Model portfolio
    • Stocks trading below $10
    • Intraday trade alerts
    • Weekly roundups
    Dividend Stock Advisor
    Try it NOW

    Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

    Product Features:
    • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
    • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
    • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
    Real Money Pro
    Try it NOW

    All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

    Product Features:
    • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
    • Intraday commentary & news
    • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
    Options Profits
    Try it NOW

    Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

    Product Features:
    • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
    • Actionable options commentary & news
    • Real-time trading community
    • Options TV
    To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
    Submit an article to us!
    DOW 16,915.07 -70.54 -0.42%
    S&P 500 1,964.68 -8.15 -0.41%
    NASDAQ 4,396.2040 -22.83 -0.52%

    Brokerage Partners

    Rates from Bankrate.com

    • Mortgage
    • Credit Cards
    • Auto
    Advertising Partners

    Free Newsletters from TheStreet

    My Subscriptions:

    After the Bell

    Before the Bell

    Booyah! Newsletter

    Midday Bell

    TheStreet Top 10 Stories

    Winners & Losers

    Register for Newsletters
    Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs