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How does using my cell phone or PDA make me vulnerable to identity thieves?

Identity Theft: Cell Phones And PDAs

Robert Siciliano (Identity Theft Expert and CEO) gives expert video advice on: How does using my cell phone or PDA make me vulnerable to identity thieves?; How do identity thieves steal information from cell phones or PDAs? and more...

How does using my cell phone or PDA make me vulnerable to identity thieves?

I think it's important that consumers realize there's very little security when it comes to wireless connections. A wireless phone, a digital or cellular phone, what you communicate over those phone lines wirelessly can be intercepted, meaning that there are scanners that you can buy at your local electronic stores that, with a little manipulation, those scanners can actually listen in and eavesdrop on your wireless communications, whether it's a PDA, a cellular phone or even a cordless phone from your home or office. So again, if you're communicating personal identifying information or that of evenyour client's over a wireless phone, know that that information can be intercepted, so just be very careful.

What makes my PDA a target for identity thieves and what can I do to protect myself?

Computers are becoming smaller and smaller every single day and the person's computer is actually becoming the PDA. Your PDA like your Blackberry or any other Treo type device has a lot of data on it. They have bigger and bigger hard drives, some of them actually have the windows operating software. They have personal identifying information of you, your clients, your friends, your family, sometimes credit card information. These are small hard drives that if they are lost or stolen, can be used to compromise your identity. So, it's important that if you do have these devices, you have as much security on them as possible. Make sure that every time you turn the device on, that someone has to enter a username and a password in order to access information. And when you're not using any of the Bluetooth that comes with it, make sure to turn that feature off because that information can also be extracted via that Bluetooth wireless connection.

How do identity thieves steal information from cell phones or PDAs?

There are software and hardware devices that can intercept what are called "data packets." When information is sent wirelessly, via a laptop computer, PDA or cellular phone, it's sent off in what we call, again, data packets, which are small bits of information that, when put together, make the sound or the information that shows up on the other end. That information can be intercepted through hardware and software that actually puts those packets together by indentity thieves trying to steal information. Whenever you're out and about, using your cellular phone or your PDA, and you're at a restaurant, let's say, and you put that device down, be very careful of any distraction-type crimes, where an identity thief may try and get your attention to the right, and then actually steal that device from the left side of you. So always, at all times, be aware of the location of a PDA or cellular phone, because they are fast becoming targets for identity thieves who want your information.

What types of information do identity thieves steal from cell phones or PDAs?

Identity thieves will steal any information that you have on your cellular phone or PDA - any data, any information regarding phone numbers, any pictures you may have or any information contained on the hard drive. It could be customer data, a presentation you're going to deliver or it could be anything at all that you don't want in the hands of identity thieves. These identity thieves can steal from that cellular phone, so make sure through the manufacturer or whoever retails that phone, that you update the software continually to patch any security issues that there might be as a result of that particular software or hardware. And also, be aware of extra security such as any password protected measures that you can install or put in place, or any upgrades to the hardware or software.

Is it safe to sell an old cell phone or PDA, or will that make me vulnerable to identity theft?

I would never resell a PDA or cellular phone unless you've gone through the proper measures to delete any and all traces of any of your proprietary data on that phone. Most consumers would not know how to do that. I would take that phone to the retailer or even to someone who understands the inner workings of that phone, making sure that all information is deleted before you sell it or give it away. There are individuals, identity theives, out there trolling the Internet looking on eBay, looking for old cellular phones, old computers, old laptops, specifically for the data so that they can commit identity theft. There are those people out there that don't realize that when they try to sell a phone or a computer or a laptop on eBay that if they haven't reformatted that hard drive and extracted all that data, that there really are people out there looking for those hardware devices to buy them at a small fee to make thousands and thousands of dollars in identity theft.