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Identity Theft Through Smartphones
My question to you is, "Have you ever had your cell phone stolen, laid it down in a public place and forget it, or simply lost your phone?"
I dropped my cell phone while going into a store one day and after several calls to various establishments I never found the phone. This incident was over two years ago.
One day while visiting my sister, she said to me, "I am so puzzled about who could be texting me. Who is this person, I have no clue?" I asked her what they said. She said the first text message simply said, "Hi." She went on to say, "I never received another text for about a month, until yesterday." I asked her what was in the text. She relayed to me what this new text read: "How are you getting along, it has been a long time since we have talked, let's meet soon for lunch." I asked her if she texted them back and she told me, "No, I do not know who this person is, but the number sounds so familiar."
She read me the number, and it was my old number from my lost cell phone. This incident made our blood run a little cold. It looks as though these people are becoming bolder. The problem is that my lost cell phone was an older model and did not have a tracking device. All my sister can do is monitor the phone and possibly change her number.
Meanwhile, all my information and valuable pictures are gone. My daughter and I decided one day to call my old cell phone number a few times, and when a woman answered, we merely said that we know who has this phone and this is a stolen phone. We told the person that it would be beneficial to return the phone. Of course, as expected, we got no answer and the person hung up on us.
One day last winter, my sister and I met for lunch and then shopping. She used her cell phone during lunch, but when we got in the car, and she looked for her phone, she said she must have left it at the restaurant. We returned to the restaurant as soon as we could and inquired, but to no avail, and of course, no one knew anything.
Losing a cell phone is dangerous. It is as dangerous as losing a wallet or handbag. Depending on what you put on your cell phone makes it even more severe.
What is a Kill Switch?
Recently I came across an article on the news about the "Kill Switch." I had never heard of this before, so I had to do a bit of research, and the following is what I discovered. If this information helps one person, this article was worth the effort put forth.
Lawmakers are trying to advance a new bill into law requiring cell phone manufacturers to install what is called a "Kill Switch" within the Smartphone. It looks as though California may be the first state to enact this law due to an epidemic of cell phone crimes.
It is a recognized fact that identity theft has been on the increase, sometimes causing months of individualized agony to straighten records out.
Are you one of the many people who stores all of your personal information on your smartphones? Do you save bank account numbers, credit card numbers, pin numbers, social security numbers, and much more, including non-replacement of photos, and phone numbers?
Theft for smartphones continues on the upswing, and according to CBS News, these thieves do not care if it is daylight or nighttime when the opportunity arises to pick up someone's cell phone they pick it up quickly.
The news went on to say that, a few citizens have chased down the thieves to get their phone back. One individual had their throat slit, and one thief shot a woman to death when she attempted to chase him down and take her phone back. I guess the first thing a person would do is go after the person to get back their information. This action is human nature without thinking about the potential complications. Even so, is doing such a thing worth a life lost?
Manufacturers now fit smartphones with a tracking device, and cell phone owners who have had a theft of their cell phone are tracking the accusers and confronting them. This action certainly puts citizens in danger of harm or death.
What this law will do is instantly cause the cell phone to be inoperable in the event someone steals the phone, or you lose possession of the phone accidentally. Maybe you laid your phone in a public place and forgot to pick it up, or you unknowingly dropped your phone and lost it. More times than not cell phones are stolen, when a thief sees the phone lying on a restaurant table, and the owner is paying no attention to the phone.
Other electronic devices included in this law were iPads, but once lawmakers removed this particular part of the law, the Apple Corporation and Microsoft agreed that a "Kill Switch" could be added to all phones after July 2015. Much of the wireless industry says this law is not necessary thus oppose the bill.
There are more states following California's lead such as Minnesota, New York, and Illinois. These states have a different swing on the bill. These states agree to institute a similar law that also protects laptop computers and cell-connected iPad computers. Minnesota passed their version of this new law the first part of May 2014.
Another aspect of this law tacks on fines to retailers who sell cell phones without a Kill Switch. Many lawmakers feel that part of this bill needs, eliminating because it is not the retailers' at fault but the manufacturer.
Lawmakers say that they are taking steps to protect consumers and starting in 2015 consumers will be able to erase private data on their Smartphone and keep the phone from reactivation after the phone comes up missing. For consumers to have the ability to take this step, they would have to initiate special software on their phone.
The electronic cell phone industry says that state-by-state laws could get confusing to citizens, but not if the Kill Switch is a default setting on the phone.
I think this law or a similar law to include an application to eliminate personal information from a citizen's cell phone if it becomes stolen. This action protects you from identity theft. It also protects you from injury or death if you sense that your only choice is to chase down the thief. This will not be a necessary action if the smartphone had a switch, eliminating all content of the phone and deeming the phone useless.
When You Least Expect It
Be vigilant of your surroundings and where you lay your smartphone or iPad. Do not become a victim of identity theft.