Ask the D.A.: Smartphone Dangers

Approximately one in three Americans owns a smartphone. Increasingly we have come to rely upon these devices to organize our daily lives, and we can only expect this practice to increase in the years to come. As usage increases, we can also expect identity thieves and other types of opportunistic criminals to attempt to profit.
It is important to think about protecting your smartphone as you do your home computer. First, consider creating a complex password that combines letters, symbols and numbers. Additionally, install security software as you would your home computer. This software should screen for viruses and must be updated regularly.
Next, you should consider investigating services from your phone’s manufacturer or wireless provider that backs up your data to your home computer, and erases information from your phone if it is lost or stolen. If you lose your smartphone, call your carrier immediately to report that it has been lost or stolen and remotely delete the stored data.
Finally, if you are the unfortunate victim of identity theft be sure to place a fraud alert on your credit reports . You can contact the credit reporting bureaus at (800) 525-6285. Also, request copies of your credit reports, and look for unauthorized accounts and charges. In addition to immediately filing a police report, you should call your bank and credit card companies as soon as possible. Also, the FTC should be contacted in order to file a fraud affidavit at (877) ID-THEFT/(877) 438-4338, as well as Social Security Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, and the NYS Consumer Protection Board at (800) 697-1220.
This brief list of suggestions is by no means a complete list of every loss control measure. Should you have further questions please contact my Citizens Action Center at (718) 250-2340, as well as my Neighborhood Offices located throughout the county who can provide assistance and appropriate referrals if you suspect fraud. The hotline for my Neighborhood Offices is (718) 250-2555 for a location nearest you.