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Battling the Smartphone Thief
By: Greg Dorn
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Nearly half of all Americans own smartphones. Much like the key and wallet check, our trusted handsets have become a staple accessory, never leaving our sides from the minute we step out the door. As our phones have become more powerful and full of endless capabilities, prices have soared to unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, this has led smartphones to be an attractive score for lurking thieves looking to cash in on the growing black market for stolen devices. The rise in iPhone thefts in particular has become so prevalent that the NYPD has designated a department to track down stolen phones and the crooks who’ve snatched them. Luckily, there are many ways to protect yourself from this niche crime surge. Here are a few tips to keep your smartphone safe and what to do if you become a victim.
Write down your unique ID numbers. If you do happen to be one of the unlucky targets of a smartphone thief, two of the most important numbers to have handy include your (i)Phone’s IMEI and serial numbers. This is vital information when filing a police report, as Apple will be able to trace the phone in the event someone else attempts activation. To find these numbers, go to Settings > General > About. Your phone carrier will also have this information.
Set a PIN or password. It’s a pretty safe bet that your iPhone has a plethora of valuable information meant for your eyes only. For protecting secretive passwords or bank account numbers, setting a four-digit PIN or a longer, more secure passcode is one of the iPhone’s most useful tools. Should your iDevice be stolen, 10 failed attempts to crack your code will erase all of the stored data.
Regularly back up your phone. Continuing with the previous tip, you’re going to want to have your information in a secondary location should your phone go missing. Backing up your device on a regular basis will assure you’ll still have access to the data that went bye-bye along with your phone.
Install a data-wipe service and tracking device. Services such as Find My iPhone not only help track down a stolen device, they allow you to remotely lock your phone and wipe it clean. Either through the free iTunes app or the built-in service, Find My iPhone allows you to use another iOS device to track your handset’s location on a map, lock it shut, or erase all personal data. Download the app or simply go Settings > iCloud and toggle the “On” button for Find My iPhone.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Although it might sound like obvious advice, this tip cannot be overlooked. Many thieves look for people who appear to have let their guard down at exactly the wrong time. Case in point are the popular train robberies, where thieves will wait for subway stops, grab your phone, and leave you empty-handed as the doors abruptly close. Be smart and always keep your eyes open!

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About the Author
Greg Dorn is a blogger, writer, and obsessed with everything technology and social media. Greg is absolutely captivated with the recent advancements in mobile gadgets, making our world more seamlessly connected. You can learn more about him on his own blog here
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