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What's On Your Phone?

What's On Your Phone?
by Gary Woods

A lot of us are carrying what are called smartphones these days that have an amazing amount of data on them. On mine I've got everything that’s in Outlook including contact data, calendar events and even some passwords. The passwords aren't labeled so I feel reasonably safe if my phone gets stolen but it got me to thinking.

According to a March '09 survey from Credent Technologies, 80% of users store on their phones information needed for identity fraud. 24% of cell phone owners store PINs (personal identification numbers) and passwords on a handset, 11% store personal identification info and 10% store credit card numbers.

If you phone is stolen a thief can do a reverse lookup of your cell number to obtain your name and address then combine that information with a stored credit card number and your account can be taken over in minutes. Also with that data a criminal can open new accounts using your name. If you use your phone to access your email so can anyone who steals it so change your password immediately if your phone is lost.

The easiest way to combat this kind of crime is to lock your phone after using it. Typically, the unlock code is the last 4 digits of your phone number but this can be changed. The iPhone has an Auto-Lock feature that's enabled by default to turn off the screen-based keypad after a preset amount of time but it would be a good idea to also engage Passcode Lock, to turn the phone on manually.

So start locking your phone when you're not using it or face the consequences if it's lost or stolen.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc