smartphonesNo matter what kind of smartphone you own, ‘protect your handset in every way’ has become an adage every smartphone owner will come across at some point in their lives.

Smartphone theft is an increasing problem in the US, and the number of smartphones lost to thieves doubled last year, according to a Consumer Reports study. Last year, 3.1 million people reported smartphone theft, which is 1.6 million more than in 2012. Also, 1.4 million people reported losing their smartphones on their own, a 1.2 million increase than in 2012; it shows consumers are misplacing their smartphones at an alarming rate.

The trend is alarming, according to the electronics editor at the source Glenn Derene, considering how much personal information is stored in these smartphones. By the looks of the report, individuals that steal the handsets have no problem in making money from the owner’s misfortune.

Given how much personal data handsets contain – from email accounts, contacts, images to social networks, financial apps and event entries – losing a device from theft or misplacement should definitely cause panic. Another worrying highlight of the report was that 1/3 Americans don’t take any measures to protect their personal data stored on these smartphones.

What can you do?

The responsibility to protect your personal data lies predominantly with you. Such data can be used to gain insightful information about your financial assets, personal contacts, workplace etc.

That could jeopardize your privacy.

Here the measures you could take to safeguard your personal data:

Use applications

There are several applications that remotely track and wipe personal information from your smartphone. But modern developments will allow you to do much more. You can protect your phone with antivirus software, keep communications safe by blocking unwanted content, wipe a missing device, erase data on a stolen phone, and take advantage of privacy scanners to ensure that apps running on your device don’t steal your personal information. Such solutions are available for Android, iOS device users as well as enterprise users.

Use a pin

Entering a PIN code every time you need to use your phone can be little inconvenient and frustrating, but it will make your phone features and data difficult for thieves to access.

Almost every smartphone model and make has the feature to set up a lock code or a PIN code, so make sure it is something that you do on your handset. Some modern smartphones such as Galaxy S5 from Samsung and iPhone 5s will allow you to set up a lock code that can only be unlocked with your fingerprint, making it next to impossible for the thieves to access your data.

Report theft

In case your smartphone gets stolen, immediately contact your wireless service provider and request for placing a hold/block on your account temporarily. This will help you avoid incurring charges on unauthorized usage. Then report the theft to the local police; inform them about any tracking applications installed on your phone that may help them search the adversary.

Your safety should be your priority, so never attempt to recover your smartphone on your own; if any tracking apps are installed, activate them from a safe location. Additionally, you can safely wipe the personal data without compromising your own safety.