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Posted on July 16, 2014 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

I was very excited last week to read about rumors surrounding the release of the next generation iPhone. Whether they are true or not, I absolutely love gadget and device leaks, especially the “sneak peek” photos. To me, they are way more fun than stories about the latest celebrity trials and tribulations found in the pages of People magazine. Enough with Brad and Angelina already!

Seeing these stories, and looking at how much of my personal and business information is stored on my iPhone, reminded me how important it is to set up any new smartphone or tablet as securely as possible to help prevent identity theft. Since my digital devices travel with me wherever I go, I know the risk of one or both of them going missing is high.

On the majority of smartphones, the security features are turned on by default, but here are some tips for enhancing security when setting up a new device.

Lock it up. A critical first step when you set up your new smartphone is to set a passcode. This essentially “locks” the phone, hindering thieves from accessing your stored personal information such as your email, texts, notes, or contact list. Remember, you may have credit card numbers or passwords to financial accounts stored somewhere in your phone, so lock it up and be vigilant about keeping your phone by your side. This is true for tablets as well. In fact, Apple’s operating system includes a setting that “wipes” the phone or tablet after 10 failed passcode attempts are made, to protect you if your device falls into the wrong hands.

Another cool, futuristic iPhone 5S security feature is the thumbprint scanner that acts as the locking device.

Make it kid-friendly. These days, it seems like even toddlers are using smartphones and tablets. Some of the newest strollers even come with built-in iPad holders. What will they think of next? So it’s important to keep your devices kid-friendly and create a safe place on the device where your child can play with games, apps, listen to Let It Go for the millionth time, and, of course, watch videos you have deemed appropriate, but can’t access the rest of your information.

Back it up. These days you can easily back things up to “the cloud,” so make sure you set up the device to do automatic back-ups. This will store your customized device settings, and guarantee you have back-ups of important data including photos and videos.

Find my phone. Most smartphones like the iPhone now come with a “Find My Phone” setting. This is very useful if the phone is missing, lost, or stolen. IPhone’s Find My Phone feature can be used from Apple’s iCloud. Windows Phone’s Find My Phone feature allows you to ring your phone, find it on a map, or even erase it remotely from a browser.

With Windows Phone you can even send your contact information or a message to show on the lock screen in case a nice person who wants to give your phone back has it in his or her possession. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Keep it current. It might sound strange, but keeping your phone or tablet software up to date is a critical security measure. So when you receive notifications for software updates, jump on it. The manufacturers regularly push updates that enhance your security, so take advantage of this. They make it very easy––on most devices you are one or two clicks away from updating your device.

Finally, don’t forget to “wipe” your old phone or tablet of all data before giving it away or selling it to a stranger on Craigslist or eBay. You should remove the SIM card too and destroy it. Verizon and Sprint iPhones let you deactivate your phone through their carrier websites. On the iPhone, you need to make sure you turn off iMessage in the settings so your messages won’t go to the old phone.

Protect What Matters Most

Keeping your digital devices secure is a great way to help prevent identity thieves from getting your personal information. To feel even safer, you can enroll today in IdentityForce’s UltraSecure. Your personal information will be monitored 24/7, and you’ll be notified immediately of any suspicious activity so you can act before any damage is done. If anything does happen, IdentityForce will be with you every step of the way, helping you restore your identity.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns.