11 Tips for Keeping Your Mobile Phone Secure

Whether you’re shopping via phone or simply using email, these tips will keep you out of harm’s way.

Modern methods of donating include biking, texting and shopping online
By SHARE

7. Be a savvy shopper. It's not wrong to shop from your phone, whether by browser or retailer app, but Haley urges shoppers to be extra careful with vendors they aren't familiar with, especially if the store initiated contact through an email, text message or social media site. "Make sure you're not being taken in but doing business with legitimate vendors," he says. You can always run a web search on the company first, or visit the Better Business Bureau site to check for any complaints.

8. Check privacy settings on apps. Some apps request a lot of information from you, including your location and passwords or access to other apps or your text messages. If they don't need all of that information (and why would they?), then deny access.

9. Beware the package tracking scam. If you're ordering a lot of packages online, you might not be too surprised to receive an email from what looks like a major retailer about a package that it couldn't deliver. But take a closer look, and you might notice that the email isn't actually from the domain name of that retailer. It's a common scam, and typically works by getting the recipient to click on a fraudulent link that then collects personal information. Don't click on it, Haley warns.

[See: 10 Dangers of Mobile Banking.]

10. Avoid fraudulent Wi-Fi networks. Call it the coffee shop problem: A fraudster sets up a Wi-Fi network that has a similar name to the coffee shop he's sitting in, but instead of simply providing free Wi-Fi, he's using the signal to collect information from the people around him who log onto the network. Barach says this common scam easily ensnares people who aren't paying attention to the network they connect to.

"People inadvertently log into it, and once they do, [the criminal] has access to data flow," he says. In addition to being careful to log into the proper Wi-Fi network (and using secure networks), he also recommends avoiding the exchange of personal information with your phone when you're out and about and on Wi-Fi networks owned by other entities. "It's fine to check stock prices and great to read tweets; it's not great to trade a stock or check a bank balance account," he warns.

11. Use better passwords. According to Jumio, six in 10 consumers re-use passwords for multiple sites, and many also select passwords that are easy to remember, which often means they're also easy to crack. Barach warns against ever using your mother's maiden name, for example, because anyone with access to your Facebook account can likely figure out what it is based on your family connections.

Part of the problem, Barach says, is just how useful phones are today. "There has been a giant onboarding of more people into the mobile environment and an increase in the number of complex and higher-end transactions. Five years ago, almost no one would be trading stocks or depositing checks on mobile. But today, more people are doing more complex transactions," he says.

There's no reason to stop leveraging your phone for that kind of productivity, but just be sure to apply a few street smarts first.