Elderly Scam / Fraud Alert
In the digital world of malware and spyware, enabling a password is not enough anymore to keep your smartphone safe. Once hackers have control of your phone, they can access sensitive information, including phone numbers of your contacts, credit care numbers, bank information, and other data used in transacting business on the phone. In other words, they can steal your money and identity.
Security experts urge owners to keep their smartphones as secure as possible to avoid being a victim of identity theft and other serious losses.
Fortunately, you can set up your smartphone to protect yourself and your personal information.
Here are 5 steps you can take to keep your phone safe:
1. Create a Strong Password
First of all, a simple password of “12345” doesn’t cut it anymore. Typically, a strong password is at least 12 characters long and contains a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. However, the password can be hard to remember. But, most phones have built-in password checks.
On an Apple iPhone, for instance, Safari stores passwords in Keychain. Safari monitors saved passwords and checks them against breached passwords to determine if they have been compromised. Safari’s Keychain is turned on by default with iPhone 14.
Android phones can use Google Chrome’s Password Checkup feature which notifies smartphone owners when one of their saved passwords has been exposed.
2. Enable Two-Step Verification
It may seem like a hassle, but it’s worth the effort to add one more step to the login process. Two-step verification, also known as two-factor authentication (2FA), requires a code in addition to your password. Two-step verification ensures that phone owners are the only ones who can access their account, even though someone else may know their password.
You can get a verification code by text or email or download an app like Google Authenticator or Authy that generates Two-Step verification codes on your phone.
To generate Two-Step Verification on an Apple iPhone:
- Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security.
- Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
- Tap Continue then enter the phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in. You can choose to receive the codes by text message or automated phone call.
- Tap Next and enter the verification code to verify your phone number and turn on two-factor authentication.
Apple may ask you to answer your Apple ID security questions.
To generate Two-Step Authentication for Android (Google):
- Open your Google Account and in the navigation panel, select Security.
- Under “Signing in to Google,” select 2-Step Verification and then Get Started.
- Choose a method for verification: Google prompts, security keys, Google Authenticator or similar apps, or a verification code sent to your phone via text or call.
Make It Easy on Yourself by Using Autofill
Manually entering your password and filling in the security field can get tiresome, but autofill can make it easier for you. If you have an iPhone 12 or later, you do not have to open the Messages app to get the code. The code will appear on your keyboard and you can tap it to autofill the security field.
To autofill on an Android:
- Open Settings and search Autofill.
- Tap the service you want to enable it.
- Open Settings again and go to Google > Verification Code Autofill and set the slider to On.
When using an app that has the autofill feature, tap Autofill to fill out the security field.
3. Hide Your Photos
Sometimes it’s easier to take out your phone to show a photo of an ID card, receipts, or other necessary documents. Photos usually end up in the main photo gallery, but here are ways to hide sensitive photos:
If you have an iPhone:
- Open Photos.
- Select the photo or video you want to hide.
- Tap the Share button, then tap Hide.
- Confirm that you want to hide the photo or video.
If you have an Android:
- Open Google Photos on your phone and tap to select the images you want to hide.
- Tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner, then tap Move to Archive. This moves your photos out of the main album.
- To access the archive, tap Library then Archive.
Android has a feature called Guest Mode that allows you to limit access to your information when someone else uses your phone. To turn on Guest Mode:
- Swipe down at the top of your screen to open your notifications.
- At the top right, tap on your avatar.
- Tap Add Guest and you’ll switch to Guest Mode.
4. Back Up Your Phone
It’s always a good practice to routinely save a copy of your information by backing up your phone.
To back up an iPhone using iCloud:
- Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
- Turn on iCloud Backup. iCloud automatically backs up your iPhone daily when iPhone is connected to power, locked, and on Wi-Fi.
- Tap Backup Now to do a manual backup.
- To view your iCloud backups, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.
To backup with a Mac computer:
- Connect iPhone and your computer with a cable.
- In the Finder sidebar on your Mac, select your iPhone. Mac 0S 10.15 or later is required to use the Finder to backup iPhone. Use iTunes to backup iPhones with earlier versions of Mac0S.
- At the top of the Finder window, click General. Select Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac.
- Select Encrypt local backup to encrypt your backup data and protect it with a password.
- Click Backup Now.
To backup with a Windows PC:
- Connect iPhone and your computer with a cable.
- In the iTunes app on your PC, click the iPhone button near the top left of the iTunes window.
- Click Summary.
- Click Backup Now (below Backups).
- To encrypt backups, select Encrypt local backup, type a password, then click Set Password.
Android users can back up content, data, and settings from their phone to their Google Account. To automatically back up data and settings:
- Open your phone’s Settings app.
- Tap System > Backup. If these steps don’t match your phone’s settings, try searching your settings app for backup.
- Turn on your backup service.
If you’re running Android 9 Pie or later, encryption is turned on by default.
5. Keep a Record of Your Passwords
To be truthful, it’s hard to memorize passwords on all of your devices, including your smartphone. So, it won’t hurt to write down all of your passwords on paper and keep it with your other important documents. Security experts have mixed opinions about this. Nonetheless, you will have a hard copy of your passwords in the event something happens to your phone.
If you think about it, your phone represents your life—your family, friends, business transactions, and other activities that you deem important. So, do all that you can to ensure that hackers and other fraudsters are not disrupting your life and everyone else in it.