Smartphone Users at Higher Risk of Identity Theft
Confidential information stored on smartphones might not be confidential for long. Javelin Strategy & Research's 2012 Identiy Fraud Report shows that seven percent of smartphone users are victims of identity fraud. That is a one-third higher incident rate than for the rest of the country, the report says.
According to the report, identity theft claimed 11.6 million adult victims in the U.S. in 2011, a rise of 13 percent from 2010, largely due to the popularity of smartphones.
Nearly a third of smartphone users don't update their operating system, and another third store passwords for email and other services on their phones, the report says. More than six in 10 people don't password protect their phones either, according to the report, making a lucky pickpocket the new owner of the phone and all its contents.
Consumers also share personal information often used to authenticate identity, the report says. People with public profiles (visible to anyone) on social media websites are also more likely to share personal information. According to the survey:
- More than two thirds of people using social media included their birthday information.
- Sixty-three percent stated where they went to high school.
- Eighteen percent included phone numbers.
- Twelve percent shared a pet's name, commonly used in passwords and account security questions.
Social media applications also mine data for various reasons, but few users investigate where their data is going and how it will be used, says a press release from Lawyers.com.
"The difficulty here is that many users seem to not make the effort to find out how applications are gathering and using their data, and what's worse, some applcations may be gathering more data than they are letting on," says Evan Brown, a Chicago attorney specializing in Internet law, from the press release. "It's a potentially serious consumer protection issue. Mobile devices allow individuals to gather, store and transmit more information about themselves — regarding communication, internet usage, and location — than any other mechanism we've ever known."
Information from the press release suggests requiring that social media information sharing is limited and that devices be password protected, with applications that allow the original user to remotely locate and wipe data from the phone.
Although the dollar amount stolen remained the same from 2010, the increase in existing card account fraud has increased, the report says.