If you plan to take your phone abroad, please take a moment to read through these tips on safeguarding your phone and your data. Back in January a member of the UK government lost his Blackberry during a trip to China. Of course, with a device like that there are all kinds of security risks. But even if you are not a senior government official, it is important to protect your phone.
I’ve put together a couple of simple ways you can stay safe, plus some information on what to do if your device does go missing.
Don’t show off your phone.
The iPhone and most Blackberry models rank up there with that well known Cola brand in the red can; everyone recognizes it. Sadly, not everyone around you will be as good natured as yourself, so don’t flash your phone around too much. If possible, put it in a nondescript case so you don’t tell the world you have an expensive phone. Don’t forget that those white iPod headphones can also be recognized by anyone. Replace them with something less recognizable and you won’t stand out too much.
Leave your phone at the hotel and carry a cheaper model.
If at all possible, leave your phone at the hotel, and carry a cheap disposable phone. Your Blackberry, iPhone or other smartphone is always going to be attractive to thieves, but if you carry an ugly $50 phone, nobody will think of stealing it (hopefully).
Know who to call.
If disaster does strike, and someone runs off with your phone, do you know who to call? If your phone is stolen or missing, don’t assume it’ll be OK, and don’t think you can take care of things when you get back home. Call your operator immediately. When someone steals your phone, the first thing you’ll want to do is block the account to prevent it from ending up being used by 100 people at the local phone store to make international calls.
Since some countries block access to US toll free numbers, you’ll need to use the international customer service number for your operator. In some cases, if the call is about a stolen phone, you can ask the customer service representative to call you back, or even use collect call to contact them.
- AT&T Wireless: 1-916-846-4685
- T-Mobile: 1-505-998-3793
- Verizon Wireless: 1-908-559-4899
- Sprint: 1-817-698-4199 (Sprint also have several toll free international access numbers here)
Password protection is your friend – use it!
Pick up your phone right now, and read through all your emails, text messages, notes and contacts. Now picture all of that information being handed over to a complete stranger. That is what happens if someone steals your device. Everything you have stored on the phone will land in the hands of someone else.
If you must use email on your device, make sure it is not using the same email account you use for banking, Paypal, Ebay or anything else important. If someone steals your phone while it is set to receive your primary emails, then they could gain access to all your personal information and bank accounts in a matter of minutes.
Some devices have the ability to be remotely locked, if you have a company phone with this option, be sure to carry the number of your IT department so they can assist you.
Always enable the password protection feature of your phone. I’m fully aware that it is a hassle to have to enter the password every time you want to use your device, but it really is the only way to safeguard your data. If someone does make off with your phone, you’ll at least feel safer knowing that there is no way for them to make things worse.