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How to Secure Your Smartphone from Identity Theft 

By Susan Finch on June 15th, 2017

According to the latest research and surveys compiled by Consumer Reports, 2.1 million Americans had smartphones stolen in 2014, and 3.1 million smartphones were lost. This actually represents a decrease in smartphone theft as a result of more manufacturers developing “kill switch” technology that essentially renders phones useless if stolen. Users can remotely wipe their phones or disable smartphones with built-in technology and third party apps.

However, millions of smartphones are still stolen or lost every year and it’s not just because hackers have figured out how to circumvent the latest technology. Smartphone owners aren’t doing enough to secure their phones. In a 2013 nationwide survey by Consumer Reports, 34 percent of all smartphone owners do absolutely nothing to secure their phones.

Be proactive and take steps to protect your phone in the event that it’s lost or stolen. Here is a walk-through of how to secure three of the marketplace’s most popular phones using built-in features and third party apps:

iPhone 7

Apple adopted the practice of encrypting their devices long before other smartphones. The iPhone 7 turns your data into indecipherable text that can only be read by the right key. Furthermore, Apple outfitted the iPhone 7 with the option to choose a 6-digit numeric passcode, as well as enable Erase Data and Touch ID for added security. All iPhone users also enjoy hidden security features like SSL and TLS in Safari.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge made a splash when it was introduced, with its 5.5 inch flexible display and narrow bezel design. But with security in mind, Samsung worked to make the device safer through enhanced features. Users can go into “Settings” to lock the screen and choose a password. You can also tap through to “Protect Encrypted Data” and follow the prompts to encrypt all the data on your phone. The edge also comes with an option in “Other security settings” to choose device administrators and application installation privileges to ensure only trusted users and third party software access your smartphone.

HTC Ultra

The exclusive HTC Ultra comes with unique SIM card protection where users can assign a Personal Identification Number (PIN). From the “Home” settings, users can tap through to “Settings” and “Security” to set up the SIM card lock. Like most smartphones, the HTC Ultra comes with a screen lock option but also offers a Smart Lock feature to unlock your phone in case you forget your password or PIN. In the “Settings” and “Security” section, users can tap the screen lock and follow the prompts to record their voice or face to save for future security use.

Use Third Party Security Enhancements

Smartphones have come a long way in protecting user data and digital identity, from encryption to facial recognition. But no smartphone is entirely impervious to security breaches.

Use Find My Phone apps that employ GPS and network connections to quickly locate your smartphone if lost or stolen. For Android phones running 2.2 or later, this option can usually be found in the Device Manager in Google Settings. On iPhones, the Find My iPhone app is available in all App Stores. Meanwhile, Windows phones store this option in the main settings menu.

Protecting yourself from identity theft starts with being proactive. A service like LifeLock offers identity theft, lost wallet and fraud protection using advanced internet monitoring, credit alerts, address monitoring, intuitive threat detection and more with 24/7 personalized service.

Remember to always backup your photos, video and other information so you can remotely wipe your phone if it’s lost or stolen. iPhones can be backed up to the iCloud, while Android users can rely on Google + or Microsoft One Drive to easily stash away their personal information. 

While smartphones make living in a digital era incredibly convenient, they do come with risks. The most important line of defense in protecting personal and sensitive information is proactive prevention. Combine all the resources at your disposal for the convenience you love and the security you need.