By Andrew Wooten

Cell phones, who doesn’t have one? I might leave my wallet at home, but if I leave my cell phone at home,  I am turning around to get it. Why do criminals love our use of cell phones? Because we have gotten to the point of letting our guard down. How many of us have purchased an airline ticket or ordered and paid for an item over our cell phone? What about banking? A lot of banks now have mobile applications. Your bank’s website may be secure but how secure is your Internet connection? There are approximately 6.8 billion people in the world and we’re close to 5 billion cell phone subscriptions. So the criminals have figured it out. For less than $40 you can buy a scanner and listen to almost anyone’s conversation.  So, don’t let a smart phone be the reason you find yourself in a possibly dangerous situation or become a victim of identity theft.

Phone calls:

  • Never give out your personal information over your cell phone.
  • Do not read out your credit card number over a cell phone.
  • Have emergency numbers pre-programmed into your phone.
  • Use a hands-free device when using your phone in your car.
  • When driving, do not engage in stressful or emotional calls.
  • Do not talk on the phone in heavy traffic or bad weather.

Built-in features:

  • GPS: All smart phones have built-in GPS. If you do not turn it off when you take a photo with your phone, you will be uploading not only your photo but your location as well. Check your owner’s manual to turn off GPS when you do not need it.
  • Do not store passwords on your phone for any websites, especially your bank accounts.
  • Make your passwords something hard to figure out. Don’t use your name, your kids names or your birthday. “Andrew” is not a good password, but “An56?Wo” is.
  • Lock your phone or set your phone to automatically lock after a certain period of time. Set it so that you have to enter a password to unlock it.
  • Phones can get viruses, just like computers. So do not open e-mails or download files from sources you don’t know.
  • When using Wi-Fi on your phone, remember that the information you are sending can be viewed by others.

Text messages:

  • NEVER text while driving.
  • Like with phone calls, never send your personal information over a text message.

Andrew Wooten is the president of Safety Awareness Firearms Education (S.A.F. E.) and has been in the safety and security industry  for more than 24 years.