A report issued recently by the Internet Crime Complaint Center showed that complaints about cybercrime topped 314,000 last year, up 3.4 percent from the previous year. One of the biggest targets is smartphones.
But many experts feel that cybercrime is a much bigger problem than the numbers would suggest. The newest "frontier" for scammers is cell phones. About 83 percent of adults have cell phones, and about 42 percent of those are smartphones. By 2012, more than 53 million consumers are expected to use mobile banking.
Why do thieves like smartphones? Because this is one area where much information can be found amidst little security. Most people don't protect their phones like they do their home or work computers. And people use their phones in public places, using public Wi-Fi.
How can you protect yourself – and your phone? First of all, use a password, and make it a difficult one. Combine letters, numbers and symbols.
Next, find a good backup/wiping service. A backup program sends the data on your phone to your home computer, while a wiping program can erase information from your phone if it is lost or stolen.
Make sure you install security software, including anti-virus software. Download updates whenever needed as well.
If your phone does go missing, call your carrier as quickly as possible to report that it is lost or stolen, and have your data wiped. Place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit reports, file a police report, and an affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission.