COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Our cell phones have become more than just telephones. They're our address books, photo albums, calendars and even banks. Losing that information could mean devastating consequences.
The FCC reports that robberies involving cell phones account for up to 40 percent of all robberies in the United States.
According to Lookout Mobile Security, mobile devices are valuable not only because the hardware itself can be re-sold on the black market, but more importantly because of the sensitive and personal information it may contain.
"Phones these days are like mini computers in our pockets," said Alicia DiVittorio, a consumer safety advocate at Lookout. "They hold a ton of sensitive information."
Common sense and situational awareness will help you avoid getting mugged for your phone. But technology can be a big help, too.
The most important thing a person can do to protect their information is to set a pin or a passcode to their phone, DiVittorio said. It's also helpful to change your passcode from a four-digit code to an alpha-numeric one. A recent Lookout survey shows that nearly half of Americans do not set a pin or passcode on their phones.
Lookout's Mobile Security app can also help. The app will track your phone's location in case it's stolen. It can also remotely lock your device and wipe your data.
Premium Android users also have access to Lock Cam. Lock Cam is a feature that notifies you if anyone tries to access your device, whether it has been stolen, or if someone else may be trying to take a peek when you're not around.
"If a thief accesses your phone and tries to enter your pin code 3 times in a row and it's wrong, we will snap a picture of the thief and e-mail it to you with a location," DiVittorio said. "So you have one more clue to get your phone back."
KRDO NewsChannel 13 asked some smartphone users in Colorado Springs what they would do if their phone was stolen.
"I'd be hurt," Paul Snyder said. "The pictures of my daughter are irreplaceable."
Alison Barbee agreed, saying her entire life is on her phone. "I would feel a little violated," she said.
"I do think that people are becoming more aware of just how personal these devices are," DiVittorio said. "However, we're still not seeing that shift in behavior as quickly as we would like."
If your phone is stolen, Lookout recommends you immediately report the incident to police and provide them with as much information about the event as possible. Then, contact your mobile carrier to file a report or insurance claim.