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Smartphone users are at risk of ID Fraud

Credit reference agency Equifax released research into the potential impact of Identity Fraud among Smart Phone users in 2011. Since then, the number of crimes reported has grown in proportion to the number of smart phones in use in the UK. In 2013, the Metropolitan Police Force stated that on average 10,000 handsets were stolen in London each month.In total, there were 742,000 victims of mobile phone theft in England and Wales according to the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales. Action Fraud, Part of the National Fraud and Cyber Crime reporting Centre highlights many risks that Smart Phone users face, including those assoicated with the storing of personal information on their phones.

Apple iPhone Locked Accordng to research carried out by Equifax, 40% of smart phone users don’t have a pin number enabled on their handset. The key to tackling identity theft is to think ahead. A lost or stolen handset with the right software pre-installed and pin activation enabled can remove the risk of a third party getting hold of your private details. This is reflected in the Crime rates for England and Wales, where the advent of iOS7 (Apple iPhone) saw a marked reduction in handset theft simply becuase the iPhone operating system included additional anti-theft features. Software is available for both the iPhone and Android platform that will securely erase your data remotely:


Apple iOS: iPhone and iPad users can use Apple’s Find My Phone app to track where your device is. You can also put your device in Lost Mode which will lock the screen and you can even erase your data from the device. The Find My Phone app is available in the App Store.


Google Android: Google’s Android Device Manager can lock the device or erase the data. The Android Device Manager app can be downloaded from the Play Store.

Research Findings:

Unfortunately, the findings of the reasearch show how cavalier many Smartphone owners are with their information and Identity.


The highlights of the research can be broadly broken down into:
The prevelance of iPhone and Android users means that handsets are now a part of every day life. Yet many users claim to overlook the security issues that these devices can leave us open to through their every day use:

  • 40% of smartphone users also don’t use the passcode function, leaving them vulnerable to ID fraud. And this jumps when looking at the younger generation that have most embraced the new technologies.
  • 62% of 22-25 year olds use their smartphone to regularly check their online banking. Yet despite fears about identity theft, 69% do not use a passcode function on their phone.
  • 35% admit to regularly clearing their browsing history after they use online banking. It’s also this generation where there’s probably more chance of them having personal items stolen when out shopping or in bars and clubs, making them the perfect target for fraudsters.
  • mobile phone thefts EU
    End of Life
    With a life expectancy of between 1 and 2 years, smart phones may carry a lot of our personal information but have a short life span. Driven out of a cycle of continual upgrading, a residual value may be realised through their disposal, but this leaves the user at risk of identity theft from third parties:

    • 94% of consumers fear identity fraud and theft yet many keep too much personal data on mobile devices, which when sent for recycling may still have data on them.
    • 54% of second-hand phones contain personal data including texts, emails and even banking details, identity fraud expert Equifax is urging consumers to think about what personal data they store on their mobile phone and ensure they delete all data from both the phone and SIM card before recycling or selling it.

EQUIFAX’S Smartphone Security Tips

nuke phone

  • Always use the PIN function on your handset.
  • Don’t store reminders of passwords on your phone.
  • Think about which accounts you access from your phone – would it be better to wait until you’re at the security of your home.
  • Wipe browser history, especially if reviewing online banking.
  • Keep an eye out for malicious software masquerading as apps.
  • Keep your smartphone safe at all times.
  • Delete all personal information from the phone and the SIM card before recycling or selling your phone.
  • Hire a security shredding service to shred old and unwanted smart phones.

Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself and your information is to download and register your phone with a piece of software that will allow you to remotely manage it. That way, if it ever gets stolen or lost, you can simply nuke it!

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