Smartphone Users at Risk for Personal Information Theft

Smartphone users are at risk of personal information theft as hackers target mobile devices and online banking mobile apps. Consolidated Credit is warning users to take precautions to prevent identity theft, a threat that can jeopardize the financial stability of their assets.

A new virus that records and saves a user’s private conversation has recently emerged. The recorded conversation is uploaded to a remote server, where it becomes available to thieves and hackers. These tactics are being directed at Smartphone users who are unaware of the increased malware attempts to steal important personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that around 9 million U.S. residents have their identities stolen each year. Thieves gain personal information to obtain credit cards, open telephone accounts and even rent properties. Information can also be used to apply for federal benefits such as Social Security payments.

Thieves are continuously finding new ways to gain access to an individual’s assets, including their checking and savings accounts, retirement funds and investments. As technology advances, banking becomes less personal. Services like cell phone check deposits and online bill pay open the door for thieves to virtually steal your identity, and with it, important personal financial information.

Cybercriminals can plant malware into mobile applications, which are then downloaded by consumers. These thieves then have the ability to gain full control of the mobile device, allowing for personal information theft without the user ever realizing it. Smartphones are mini-computers now. However, the major difference is, they lack the essential security components that protect users from vicious malware attacks.

Consolidated Credit is offering preventative measures for Smartphone users to ensure the safety of their personal information and financial assets.

  1. Lock Your Phone. If your phone gets lost or stolen, it can easily fall into the wrong hands. Even if the phone is not returned to you, the thief would have to restore everything to its factory settings if she/he wanted to use it. All personal information would be wiped-out.

  2. Use a Secure Network. Transactions with personal information should always be used on a secure network. Avoid places with free Wi-Fi connections to ensure your data isn’t being transmitted openly, especially if you”re making money transfers.

  3. Only Install Trusted Apps. Only applications from trusted companies should be installed. Always read through reviews of the app and consider the rating before downloading it.

  4. Log Out. Never keep your log-in information stored on any application. Remember to log out each time you finish your online banking to terminate the username and password to your accounts.

  5. Get Mobile Security Software. There are security apps available in certain mobile marketplaces that will act as a virus protection program. Packages from anti-virus companies such as McAfee or Norton can also be purchased.

  6. Keep the default. Devices are on factory settings to give consumers the best type of protection – unless he/she changes it. Jail-breaking or unlocking a phone immediately voids the original software settings within a phone, which makes it much more susceptible to third-party manufacturers.

  7. Beware of unknown texts. Just like emails, viruses can be attached to text messages, and if opened, the virus can infiltrate a mobile device. If you get a text from an unknown number, especially one that doesn’t look like a real phone number (e.g., 013284823157 or 82047), simply delete it.

Consolidated Credit has seen numerous cases in which identity fraud personal information theft has been a major cause of financial instability. Be sure to follow the aforementioned tips to keep you from being a victim of identity theft.

Press Inquiries

April Lewis-Parks
Director of Education and Public Relations

AParks@consolidatedcredit.org
1-800-728-3632 x 9344