We all know how important our smartphones are. They keep us connected to our friends and loved ones, up to date on the latest news trends, and sometimes, it can feel as though our phones are more like a fifth limb than a line of communication.
Chances are you or someone you know has had a cell phone stolen. Whether you left it at a bar and came back to find it missing or it was swiped from your pocket or bag on your commute, at a festival, or while walking down the street, smartphone theft is increasing at an alarming rate.
Photo: Hidayat Abisena | Unsplash
Losing your phone can be frustrating and costly, but it can also put your personal information at risk. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported instances where thieves spied on a victim’s iPhone passcode before taking the device in order to access their money and other sensitive data.
Here’s how you can use basic personal safety tactics to help keep strangers from stealing your devices and accessing your information.
Practice condition yellow
Stay engaged with your surroundings so you’re aware of what is happening around you. Take note of anything suspicious and periodically check where your phone is on your person.
Avoid using your phone in crowded areas
It’s not rocket science, but physically putting your phone away in a zippered pocket or bag will make it harder for a thief to steal it. Especially if you are traveling, don’t hold your phone away from your person to capture photos. It's a dead giveaway that you're a tourist, and a criminal could easily snatch the device from your hand.
Carry a personal safety tool
Keep a personal safety tool like pepper spray, pepper gel, or a personal alarm easily accessible so you are prepared to use it if a stranger approaches or tries to take your cell phone. Always have at least one hand free so, you can grab your personal safety tool at a moment’s notice.
Don’t leave your phone unattended
Photo: Ollie Hoolachan | Unsplash
You wouldn’t leave your wallet sitting on a table in a public place, and you should treat your phone the same way. Being too forgetful can also play a role in phone theft. Always double-check an area before you leave to make sure you aren’t leaving your phone behind to be taken by a thief.
Skip the simple 4-digit PIN code
Even with biometric authentication, you still need a strong password. If a thief can guess your 4-digit PIN, your device may allow them to override the biometric safeguards. Create a strong password that uses a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters that doesn't create a recognizable word or phrase.
Enable ‘Find My Phone’ settings
Utilize your phone’s GPS connection that helps you find nearby restaurants to your advantage. Android and iPhones have location tracking capabilities that can help you track your device’s location if it’s misplaced or immediately after it is taken. Look for ‘Find My iPhone’ on an iPhone and ‘Find My Device’ on an Android.
You don’t need to have a black belt in martial arts to fend off a potential cellphone thief. With these basic personal safety tactics, you can help keep your phone and yourself safe from strangers.