Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > June 2012 > Is Your Smartphone Putting Your Personal Information at Risk?

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Is Your Smartphone Putting Your Personal Information at Risk?


If you have a smartphone, convenience and ease are paramount. Need to find a restaurant for a dinner reservation? Look it up on your smartphone. Need to know your checking account balance? Download your bank's app and log in.

A smartphone makes it easy to open and access this information almost anywhere. But would you leave your bank account number or your name and date of birth on a public bench? What if you lose your phone or log in through an unsecure public network? You could be putting your personal information at risk through different smartphone uses.

Every year, more Americans are using smartphones and other forms of mobile technology. With this use comes an increased risk of compromising one’s personal information. By following some simple steps, you may be able to reduce your risk:

  • Put a passcode on your phone. It's a simple and effective security feature that prevents someone who picks up your phone from quickly accessing your information.
  • Research and use caution when downloading apps. Apps can be developed by almost anyone. Some apps could install malware or spyware, which open up your phone to a hacker. Read reviews and the fine print before downloading an app.
  • Be careful what you share when on an unsecured or public network. You never know who else is on the network and what information they are looking for.
  • Update software. Software updates often fix problems in programming or vulnerabilities of the device’s software. By updating the software, you can help your device run more efficiently and protect yourself from security breaches.
  • Install an anti-virus software program. Certain apps may help protect your device against different spyware and malware. Be sure to research the program before installing it.
  • Learn about your phone’s location or wipe options. Many smartphones have functions that would enable you to locate a phone remotely if you lost it. If you think your phone may have fallen into the wrong hands, you may be able to use a computer to wipe all the data stored on your phone Look into the options that your phone has and ask your service provider for more details on these options.

Take time to understand your phone’s options and security features. It will help you save time and money if your phone is hacked or lost.

For more information on smartphones and theft, visit the Federal Communications Commission’s tip sheet on lost and stolen devices at