insecure mobile phoneAP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Police have issued a warning that millions of people are making themselves vulnerable to fraud and ID theft by failing to take the most basic of steps to protect their mobile phone.

So what are we doing wrong, and what are the risks?


Failing

DCI Bob Mahoney, head of the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit, told the BBC that millions of people were making themselves vulnerable by failing to password protect their handset.

Figures from LV= reveal that 59% of adults do not have password protection on their phone and few take the time to log out of banking or social networking apps, making it very easy for criminals to steal their details and use them fraudulently.

It also found that every day 264 mobile phone robberies are reported to police - a figure that's up 25% in the last three years - so the risks are very real.

The risk

Jason Brockman, Director of MobileInsurance.co.uk, has been shocked by the announcement, saying: "I can't believe that at a time when mobile phone theft and loss are at an all time high, people would fail to protect their handsets with a PIN code or password."

He pointed out: "When people think about losing their phone or having it taken from them, they worry about losing the photos on the handset, the music perhaps, or the numbers in their contact list. However, the main concern for those suddenly finding themselves as victims of phone theft or loss should be fraud and ID theft."

"Banking apps, social media accounts that are readily signed in and the personal information found in email inboxes can make you incredibly vulnerable if your phone ends up in the wrong hands."

Mahoney warned: "If criminals have stolen your phone and they've got access to your personal data that is highly valuable." He says that often we have access to our Twitter account, Facebook details, addresses, phone numbers, our home address and our diary to show when we're out and about so the property will be empty.

The advice is to make sure we activate the password. Brockman says: "Most handsets, even mobiles that aren't classed as Smartphones, now offer the option to protect your device with a password or PIN code. If the option is there, we cannot stress enough the importance of taking advantage of that. We hear too many horror stories from people that claim on their policies with us, involving phone theft that has had much worse consequences than just ending up without a mobile phone for a while."



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