How to Protect yourself from Smartphone Theft

With recent reports that smartphone theft is on the rise nationwide, we thought it might be a good idea to provide consumers with a few tips on how to protect yourself and your devices from landing into the wrong hands.

“Thieves know that carrying a smartphone is like carrying $500 in your hands,” said Kevin Mahaffey, a co-founder of Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm. His company estimates that stolen and lost cell phones could cost American consumers more than $30 billion this year.

That being said, we suggest keeping the following guidelines in mind when it comes to your smartphone.

cell phone use in train stationAvoid Advertising Your Smartphone

It can be tempting to use your smartphone throughout the day, but you should be aware of your surroundings. Some thieves will snatch devices from unsuspecting users, even while they have the phone right up to their ear. It only takes a matter of seconds for a skilled thief to grab and run, particularly on subways, busses, and passing on crowded streets. Monitoring your surroundings can decrease the likelihood that you will be an oblivious target.

Do Not Leave Smartphones Unattended

Many smartphone users will leave their devices on coffee shop tables, car seats, and other highly visible locations. A car window is a surprisingly ineffective crime deterrent, so even while in the comfort of your own vehicle; don’t leave your phone clearly visible on the passenger seat.  An obvious, but important rule to always follow is to never leave your smartphone unattended in a public place.

locked smartphoneUtilize the Manufacturer’s Security Features

Most new smartphones are equipped with some useful security features. At the very least, most devices have a password option, so to provide protection from thieves accessing information on your phone, you should utilize this opportunity.  As soon as you activate your phone, you should set a secure password. Try to change the password regularly and avoid passwords that are easy to guess, such as passwords that include your name.

Download Anti-Theft Apps

App developers have created some very useful anti-theft apps. App features include the ability to track, lock, or erase a smartphone. Tracking apps can help the police find your stolen phone, and this app is also helpful if you misplace your device. Locking apps will remotely lock your smartphone, so most thieves will not be able to obtain your personal information. Apps that remotely erase the information on your smartphone are useful if it is unlikely that your device will be found and returned to you.

cell phone pickpocketBackup Your Files

Losing significant data or precious pictures can be devastating, so it is a good idea to prepare for the worst case scenario. You should regularly save your important files to another device or cloud service. This practice can also save you from the headache caused by a malfunctioning smartphone.

Purchase Insurance

Smartphones are still relatively expensive, and a theft is unlikely to be scheduled for a time that is financially convenient. Obtaining insurance for your device may be a good idea as you never know what will happen and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, potentially saving you money in the long run. You can acquire coverage from your wireless provider or a third party company.


If you are unfortunate enough to have your smartphone stolen, the first thing you should do is report it immediately to your wireless provider so you can avoid incurring any charges on the improper use. You should also consider informing the authorities and see if they have any luck in tracking your phone and locating the thief.

Simple Ways to be a Savvy Smartphone User

Smartphone AppsYour smartphone is your gateway to the exciting world of the Internet. However, your online forays come at a price from your service provider. Reducing excess data usage on your smartphone will help you keep your monthly bills reasonable.

Know How Much You’re Using

Before you can reduce your data usage, you need to know how much data you’re actually consuming. If you don’t have a way to access your data usage, contact your service provider for more information.

If you’re regularly using less data than you’re paying for, you can reduce the size of your data package to help you save on your monthly bill.

Enable Wi-Fi

When you use your phone at home, you can easily reduce your data usage by using your home Internet connection instead of your service provider’s wireless Internet connection. After setting up your connection, make sure that the Wi-Fi option is enabled each time you plan to spend more than few minutes online. When you’re away from home, you can use public wireless connections to access the Internet. Libraries and coffee shops are just some of the many places that offer free Wi-Fi.

Turn Off Notifications

Your installed apps may constantly try to notify you of new updates, from new emails to private messages on your social media profiles. Turning off these notifications can make a small but noticeable difference in your data usage each month. Unless you need to know about every single email that you receive, change the notification setting to manual instead of automatic.

Curb Your Activities

If you’re not able to connect to a Wi-Fi connection while using your phone, be mindful of your online activities. Watching endless prank videos online will quickly burn through your allotted data usage. Listening to your own music stored on your phone, however, will not consume your data plan. You can also safely use apps that have an offline version.

Although some apps obviously connect to the Internet constantly, such as web browsers, others are not so obvious about their data consumption. Even solo games may keep an active connection to the Internet, potentially costing you money just for a few minutes of entertainment.

Change Your Browsing Habits

Changing your browsing habits on your smartphone can help you save on data costs. Always try to visit the mobile version of a website. Most mobile websites offer reduced data-heavy content, from advertisements to images. Most browsers offer a setting that automatically redirects you to the mobile version of a website. In addition, the mobile version will be easier for you to view on a small device. You can also try downloading a different browser to help you trim your data usage. Opera, for example, allows users to view compressed versions of websites.

Turn Off GPS

Most smartphones come equipped with a GPS feature. Unless you require your smartphone to navigate your way through the city, you can probably turn off the GPS function. If you know that you will need access to a map while you’re on the go, try using a map app that includes an offline mode.

Close Your Apps

Many people do not realize that simply quitting an app does not necessarily turn it off. Many times, unknown to the user, apps will be running in the background while there is no need for its use. For iPhone users, be sure to double click the “home” button and close all apps from there. This will ensure that the apps are actually not in use. Another way to ensure that apps are not running and using data is to go into your settings and manually turn the data off. If you keep data shut off while you are in areas that do not have Wi-Fi, no app will be able to connect to the internet, and thus, not waste data.

If you habitually go over your data limit each month, you may be spending more than you want to on your data plan. By managing your data usage intelligently, however, you can rein in your spending and save money for your other bills.