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Protect accounts in case of losing phone

April 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Are you comfortable using your cellphone when it comes to banking, or are you worried that you might lose your phone and someone might gain access to your information? Here are some ways to protect your personal and banking information in case you lose your phone.

The computer software company Symantec intentionally lost 50 phones in four cities around the U.S., just to see what would happen when they were found. Special software was installed to track the phones, and what people did with them. In half the cases, the finder tried to return the phone, but not before they did a little snooping.

"People looked at private pics. They tried to access a banking account, logging into the person's bank," said Symantec's Kevin Haley.

In fact, 43 percent actually tried to access banking apps and 57 percent went into a saved password file.

Still, Doug Johnson, with the American Bankers Association Risk Management Unit, hopes people will reconsider. He says with proper steps, it's safe to bank on your smartphone. Step one: Create a password just to be able to use the phone.

"You don't want people to be able to get right into that phone," said Johnson.

Then create different passwords for each mobile account that's tied to your money. It may be a lot to keep straight, but he warns you not to use the "Remember this password" option when it appears.

"It kind of defeats the purpose of the password," said Johnson.

There are a lot of new special software programs and apps to protect you if your phone goes missing.

"There's also some other great technology out there that would let you remotely wipe all your personal information and your business information off that phone," said Symantec's Haley.

There's even a feature called "Scream."

"The 'scream' feature is going to make your phone let out a loud noise, a scream, so that you can help identify where you've left it," said Haley. Or scare a thief into dumping it.

If you don't have the extras, Johnson does offer some advice in case your phone goes missing.

"You've misplaced your phone, you believe that you haven't taken proper measures to protect your phone, and so to the extent that you're vulnerable, I believe you should contact your institution," said Johnson.

The American Banking Association points out the tech and financial industries have together learned a great deal about phone safety by using the lessons they learned with online banking protections.