Identity theft is a difficult crime to spot, and there’s much more to it than a compromised social security number or credit card fraud. In fact, the data contained on your customer’s lost smartphone can be a virtual goldmine for the right kind of criminal. Storing a customer’s lost smartphone may be the right thing to do, but it can also create a liability and run the risk of exposing your customer’s personal data should that smartphone fall into the wrong hands.
Here are 3 things you need to know about identity theft and lost smartphones.
1. Smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, creating many of opportunities for identity thieves.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, approximately 77 percent of American adults have a smartphone. The function of a smartphone is great for convenience, but can also be great bait for identity thieves, as each device is likely a key to the owner’s personal and financial information. More than 3 million smartphones are lost each year according to Consumer Reports, creating many opportunities for identity thieves to crack into these devices to steal owners’ information.
2. Your customer likely has already replaced the phone in your lost and found.
Many of today’s smartphones have handy features enabling the owner to locate their device should it be lost or stolen. Tools like Find My IPhone and Where’s My Droid make it easy to locate missing devices in just seconds. If a smartphone ends up in your lost and found for more than a few days, chances are likely that its owner isn’t coming back.
3. A lost or stolen smartphone can lead to identity theft.
Whether it’s left behind in a hotel room or it tumbles out of a pocket at your restaurant, a lost smartphone is a serious threat to your customer’s identity. Many users fail to protect their devices with a passcode or fingerprint scan and sophisticated (and not so sophisticated) hackers can even bypass some of these security measures. Payment information, personal passwords, banking information and more can likely be accessed through an unsecured or hacked smartphone.
If there are unclaimed smartphones in your lost and found, do your customers a favor and dispose of their devices securely. The 911 Cell Phone Bank takes unclaimed portable electronic devices, like lost smartphones, and removes private, confidential and sensitive data to protect the former owners’ identities and uses the devices as lifelines for domestic violence victims and more. To learn more about lost smartphone safety and security, contact us.