What do your identity and summer have to do with each other? Everything!
Summer is the typical time to go to the beach, the lake, the pool or waterpark, or any other place where large numbers of people get together and leave their valuable items unattended. But while you’re playing in the waves or enjoying that water slide, a thief can be after your belongings. Unfortunately, it’s not just your money, credit cards, or car keys that a thief wants to make off with anymore. There’s one item in your possession that can prove to be far more valuable.
Your smartphone! Your phone contains so much information about you and provides so much access to other valuable aspects of your life that the Supreme Court has actually ruled the police cannot search your phone without a warrant, even in a traffic stop or an arrest, because it contains just as much information (if not more) as your home. In a thief’s hands, your smartphone can provide access to your email account and social media, which can then provide login access to your bank, your credit, your mobile wallet for payments, and a host of other payment and financial apps that you may have installed.
But more than just taking your money through your phone, with the right steps a thief can steal your entire identity if he can sift through the data you have stored. Losing your phone might cost you several hundred dollars to replace the device, but can end up costing you a lot more in terms of your finances.
But how do you protect your valuables while you’re enjoying your summer? Even with things like waterproof pouches—available in many different sizes to accommodate devices, wallets, keys, and more—are you supposed to hang out in the ocean with a giant bag around your neck?
Well, yes and no. First, yes, a small waterproof pouch can give you peace of mind. Even better, decide what items you’re really going to need on the sand or by the pool. If you don’t have to have your entire wallet, leave it locked in the trunk of your car and only take some cash or one credit or debit card with you. If you can get by without your phone while you’re relaxing, leave it in the car, too, but again, lock it in a glove compartment or your trunk.
If you really do need your phone with you, there are some steps you should take:
- Be sure the passcode lock is enabled to keep a thief from breaking into it.
- Log out of all of your important apps, even your email and social media apps, to keep a thief from opening them and changing your passwords, thereby blocking you from getting into them. If he does access those accounts and change the passwords, he can then go to all of your other online accounts, click “forgot my password,” and then have the new password sent to the email address that he now has control over.
- Be sure the “find my phone” setting is activated so you can locate it from a PC if it’s stolen, and if your phone will do it, activate an app that will take a picture of the thief (with the GPS coordinates) if he tries to open it.
- Depending on the model you have, you can also activate a setting that will let you “brick” your phone if someone steals it, meaning you can contact your cell phone provider and have it completely disabled. That will mean your phone is completely useless (even if you get it back), but at least your information is safe.
The last thing you need to worry about while enjoying your summer is protecting your valuables and your identity, so take all the necessary steps ahead of time to avoid ruining your good time.