If you’re like me, you complete just about every task with the help of your smartphone. From checking your email accounts to downloading apps to help you maintain your budget, your whole life is on your phone. While modern technology is certainly a convenience, we really do have to be careful about the potential threats that are out there. Identity theft is serious business and, according to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft was at the top of the list for consumer complaints this year. For that reason, it is important for us to take extra precautions to protect our personal information. Below are a few things I’ve done to safeguard my smartphone.

1.  Update Your Phone’s System Periodically

Just as your computers notify you when there is an operating system update, the same holds true for your phones. When you receive notifications about updates it is extremely important not to ignore them. Such updates are provided as a means to protect your phone and also to ensure that you can enjoy new features. I check for updates every few months to ensure that my phone is secure.

2.  Install a Reliable Security Application or Software

As I’ve said before, I use my phone for just about everything. I log into my bank accounts, I check my budgeting apps, social media accounts, and even my email. That means there’s a whole lot of information I access on a regular basis that could be stolen. The best way to protect against identity theft is to ensure that you have a reliable security application installed on your phone. Since I own a Samsung Galaxy S4, I knew I needed an application that offers Android security. When looking into the various types of security applications, some key elements to look for include:

  • Security for your entire phone
  • Identity theft protection
  • Virus and malware protection
  • Privacy protection
  • App scanners (to check for viruses)

3.  Pay Attention to Where You Log In

You don’t know how often I’ve run to the coffee shop for a quick break and have used their Wi-Fi services to check my accounts or to review an app to see if I’ve stayed on budget. What I didn’t realize was that most of these Wi-Fi connections are not secure and, therefore, I could have left myself open to have personal information stolen from me. It is best that you do all of your banking or signing into personal accounts on a secure internet connection to avoid the potential threat of identity theft.

4.  Only Download From a Trusted Source

I’m a big lover of applications that simplify my life and help me to manage my finances; however, you must consider the source. The best advice I can give you on this is to only download applications that can be found in app stores such as Google Play. Downloading an app from an independent and unmonitored source could really get you into a jam.

5.  Pay Attention to Each Applications’ Data Access

When you’re getting ready to download an application, most of them will have a pop up that states the various data or features on your phone to which it will have access. Many of us just click “accept” without reviewing what type of information the app will be able to review. It is important to review this list of access points to ensure that there is nothing suspicious. For instance, if you’re downloading a game, there should be no reason for them to need access to your SMS or your phonebook. If the application is asking for too much access, you may want to skip installing it altogether.

Most of us are aware of how to protect our home computers from potential threats, but the concept of mobile security is fairly new. While I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy modern conveniences such as the cool budgeting apps installed on your phone, I am saying that you should do so with caution. By following all of the above advice you are doing your part to ensure that your identity stays your own.