Financial blogger Ash Cash shares a few ways to ensure that scammers and fraudsters aren't making off with the information you keep handy via smartphone.
Millions around the world use mobile devices to watch movies, play games, get turn-by-turn directions, find news, read books, listen to music, bank online and much more. The portability of technology has literally placed the world in our hands.
While mobile devices are beyond convenient, some apps may pose a threat to your personal information. Although app makers promise to protect your privacy, data breaches have occurred despite their best efforts and most current protocols. While the Federal Trade Commission is doing its best to enforce developers' privacy promises, be diligent in protecting yourself from vulnerable systems that contain significant amounts of your private information.
Here are five tips mobile apps users should consider to protect themselves and their data:
1. Guard your device.
In the wrong hands, sensitive information — including financial information and personal contacts stored on a mobile device — can cause a lot of damage. Keeping your mobile device within view in a safe and secure place will help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. Lock your device with a password that is easy enough for you to remember but complicated enough that it can't be guessed or easily copied. No "password" or "12345" passcodes!
2. Download apps only from trusted sources.
3. Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® when not in use.
While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are convenient ways to connect your device to other useful devices and systems, identity thieves can use your connection to access your files and information. Turning off your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection when you are not using it will help keep your information safe from hackers. Avoid open or public Wi-Fi connections that are unsecured. When you connect to an unsecured network, you invite others to view your private information freely.
4. Don't store usernames or passwords.
Sometimes easy isn't safe. While granting permission for a website you visit frequently to remember your username and password allows faster and easier access, it can also put your personal information at risk. This is especially true of financial apps or websites. If you use your mobile device to bank or shop, completely log out when you are finished. Avoid banking or shopping on your mobile device while on public Wi-Fi.
5. Monitor your credit.
When you're familiar with how your credit normally looks, you can easily spot unusual activity and can minimize the damaging effects of identity theft when they happen. Remaining vigilant about suspicious or unauthorized activity on your credit report can help you recognize when thieves are attempting to access your information and solicit credit with your data.
Mobile devices offer unparalleled convenience on the go, but the benefits may not outweigh the costs. Proactively protecting your information can help prevent identity theft.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Experian.