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Posted on July 20, 2016 by in Business, ID Protection Tips & Awareness

Your customers and employees probably have mixed feeling about enabling “location services” on their cell phones, other portable electronic devices, or in-vehicle GPS. On one hand, it’s convenient that location-based apps always know where you are and can tailor offers or map results based on that knowledge. On the other hand, it just feels a little creepy when you realize that your phone (and the company that made it, along with app creators) can always know where you are.

Does the convenience factor outweigh the creepy factor? Or are we giving up our rights to privacy just so it’s easier to tag locations to your Instagram photos?

Advice: If Cell Phone Privacy and Security is Important, Don’t Enable “Location Services”

Most average people don’t fully understand how location services uses their personal information. And yet, countless people enable this feature on their electronic devices and completely sacrifice their cell phone privacy. They likely figure that they are “probably” safe, or just assume nothing will happen to them or their information.

It is this type of mindset, however, that is leaving millions of people (and their personal info) vulnerable to those with less-than-honorable intentions.

Companies aren’t always completely transparent about how they use this type of consumer data. They also aren’t always upfront about which third parties they might share that information with. Your customers and employees may feel relatively secure sharing their location information with Apple, but what if Apple is selling those details to a third party? A third party they know nothing about? Right now, for the most part, there’s just no easy way to know who receives and analyzes location data.

There is also a major identity theft threat when it comes to enabling “location services.” Many times, companies that have your location information also have other personal data that they’ve used to construct your personal data profile. They may know your name, where you live, where you work, your birthday, your friends’ names — information that you would normally never share with strangers. Hackers can attack these companies and easily steal your customers’ and employees’ personal data, often without them even realizing what has happened.

Perpetrators can not only fraudulently take the identity of your customers and partners, but also target them out in the “real world.” Because criminals now know where they live, work, shop, and eat, they can identify patterns in daily routines and make plans to rob houses, steal cars, or even physically harm them. This is, of course, an extreme example — but it is critical that we consider these scenarios and realize they are fully possible.

When it comes to “location services,” the negatives do seem to outweigh the positives. Not only is the whole concept slightly “Big Brother,” but we can also never be completely sure that our personal information won’t be accessible to criminals. Unless your customers and employees are entirely certain how their data is being handled and shared by enabling “location services,” their best bet is to just disable this function.