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  • Writer's pictureJames Mosieur

Meet me at the mall: Teens, smartphones phones and shopping malls

If you manage the lost and found department for a shopping mall, you are likely familiar with unclaimed smartphones. But are you familiar with who those phones belong to? Knowing this information can help protect your reputation and the identities of your shoppers when dealing with their unclaimed personal electronic devices.

Here are three things shopping mall lost and found departments need to know about teens and lost smartphones:

  1. Teens are more likely to shop in stores and they’re bringing their smartphones with them. Ninety-eight percent of those age 18-24 own a smartphone according to Neilsen, and it’s very likely that the personal electronic devices in your mall’s lost and found department once belonged to a teen or young adult. Data from suggests that teens are more likely to shop in stores than online, sending droves of young people – and their phones – to malls and shopping centers nationwide.

  2. Teens use their phones – the ones they leave behind at your mall – to send text and images that might make you blush. Almost two-thirds of teens and young adults said they send and receive “sexy messages” on their phones, according to a recent Sex and Tech Summary report. This includes text and pictures that could be damaging or even illegal if someone obtains a device that hasn't been properly secured. Here’s a potentially damaging scenario: Let’s say your mall’s lost and found department obtains an iPhone that belonged to a teenage girl who used the device to send and receive intimate photos with her boyfriend. Because she didn’t retrieve the lost iPhone, the device is donated to a local charity. The iPhone was sold in an online auction to raise money without data being properly cleared. Suddenly the buyer, a middle-aged man, has access to the intimate photos she swapped with her partner. Both of the photographed parties are under age, and the man is now potentially in possession of child pornography. While the lost and found department did nothing wrong and isn’t legally liable, the reputation of the mall, charity, buyer and teens involved are now all at risk.

  3. The only way to protect your shoppers and your reputation is to ensure all unclaimed devices are disposed of properly. A lost and found department best practice is to ensure that all unclaimed phones are handed over to a reputable organization that secures data before passing on the device. The 911 Cell Phone Bank takes unclaimed portable electronic devices, like smartphones from your lost and found department, and protects both your reputation and that of the previous owner, by removing private and confidential data and then uses the devices as lifelines for domestic violence victims, the elderly and more.

To learn more about unclaimed smartphone safety and security, contact us.

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