Money Monday: It’s Not Your Wallet, It’s Your Cell Phone Thieves Are After

BY: - 17 Dec '12 | Home

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Good news: Your wallet or pocketbook may no longer be the primary target for thieves.

Bad news: Increasingly it’s your cell phone they’re after.

Nationwide, cell phone theft has soared. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, in New York alone there were more than 26,000 incidents of electronic theft in the first 10 months of 2011, 81% of these thefts involved mobile phones.

Stolen cell phones are a hot commodity. Thieves can easily fetch hundreds for a stolen phone on the second-hand market. Many of these phones are shipped overseas where consumers scoop them up.

And, public transportation is a breeding ground for thieves who grab cell phones from unsuspecting passengers and then make a run for it just before the subway doors close. San Francisco police report that half of the city’s thefts involve cell phones. New York City has even begun staging undercover cops on subways acting as decoys to catch cell phone thieves.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Police attribute the increase in robberies to crimes of opportunity involving youths ages 11 to 19 stealing smartphones from CTA passengers. Most of the phones taken are Apple iPhones, said authorities, who urged CTA riders to keep their smartphones out of sight.

“The smartphone vendors are almost giving away $600 phones at $49.99 and a two-year data plan. It is really working against us,” said police Cmdr. John Graeber, of the department’s public transportation section. “These kids can sell the phones for $200 to pawn shops and cellphone stores.”

But, it’s not just thieves you have to worry about. Misplace your phone and you may never get it back. Worse yet, our phones are loaded with information that could expose us to financial loss or identity theft.

In one study, technology security firm Symantec purposefully “lost” cell phones in public locations around several major US cities. The phones contained special software that allowed Symantec to determine exactly what people did when they found one of the “lost” phones.

Surprisingly, forty-three percent of the people who came across a Symantc phone attempted to access the phone’s online banking app. Fifty-seven precent tried to open a file on the phones labeled “saved passwords,” while sixty percent of people tried to check the phone’s personal email. Worst of all, just 50% of people who happened upon a “lost” cell phone attempted to return it, even though owner information was readily accessible.

What can you do to protect your cell phone and minimize the loss if it is stolen or misplaced?

  1. Password protect your cell phone information so that prying eyes can’t get into your personal information. If your phone is lost or stolen change any password to bank accounts, social media, or any other accounts that may have been on your listed on your phone. Remember to record your phone’s unique ID some place safe. This will make it easier to identify and track your phone.
  2. When riding public transportation, be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to become a victim of a grab-and-dash. Police suggest that you look up every single time the bus or subway comes to a stop and doors open.
  3. And if your phone is stolen call your carrier immediately to have your account disabled so you don’t rack up charges for excessive text messaging, international calls, or app purchases. It’s also a smart idea to file a police report which is required by many cell phone replacement insurance policies.
  4. Finally, consider downloading apps like Find My iPhone It uses GPS signaling, allowing users to locate their phone, using a computer or other electronic device. The app also locks the phone remotely so its information can not be accessed. Lookout is a similar app available for Android phones.

Remember, in today’s digital society, your cell phone is just as valuable as you wallet.

BMWK family – Have you ever had a phone stole? Did the thieves access valuable information? Do you know of any other apps that provide phone tracking and security?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 247 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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Clearly, We Must Have a Discussion About Gun Control in America

BY: - 17 Dec '12 | Events

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In the United States, it’s easier to buy a gun than to own a home. With a home purchase you have to go through months of inquiries into your financial, job, and relationship history. Everything is verified multiple times.  And, at any time if something does not ‘check out’ you are immediately denied the home loan. People plan for years to be ready to purchase their home. However, if you wake up one morning and want to buy a gun in the United States, you may have to wait a maximum of 7 days to purchase a piece of weapon that can kill another person. So what’s the problem? Should we ban weapons all together and only allow police and the army to have them? Of course not, however we must start having real discussions about gun control/education and stop hiding behind the belief that to discuss gun control means we are trying to take away people’s rights to ‘bear arms’. Never again do we want to turn on the news and learn that innocent children and adults were killed by someone who should not have been given access to guns in the first place.

This discussion has to be about common sense and gun control that will help protect our most precious commodity, our children, who far too often get guns in their hands. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, gun violence claims over 30,000 lives annually; while each year approximately 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence. When the statistics are narrowed to our young people, the numbers are even more sobering. In 2007 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 3,042 children and teens died from gunfire in the United States —one every three hours, eight every day, 58 every week.

In simplistic terms, we have a problem. While many people argue that the solution lies within, totally outlawing guns is not the most common sense solution. Disarming law abiding citizens would make us targets for criminals. So what do we need to do?  I think we should address these key issues in regards to gun control :

1. Mandatory education class for anyone who buys a gun in our country. In some states, all you need is a driver’s license and the money and you can go into your local gun shop and buy a firearm. While other states are more stringent- there is almost no real mandate that makes sure people are given the proper education on how to handle/take care/protect your family with a gun.

According to David Kopel’s study on gun control, in Japan the differences are startling. To get a gun in Japan you have to attend an all day class, pass a written test (which is only held once a month). Then, you have to pass a rigorous background/mental health check for any criminal record. Lastly, you must provide police with documentation with the specific location of the gun in your home. (By the way, the gun and ammo must be stored in separate locations.) After all of that you can have the gun, but the police inspect the gun once a year and you have to retake the class and exam every three years!

2.Why do normal American citizens need military style assault weapons? The tragedy in Connecticut was compounded by the fact that the killer used his mothers semiautomatic and military assault weapons: a Bushmaster .223 caliber, Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm . These are all weapons that are meant to fire multiple bullets within seconds. Why do normal citizens need these type of weapons? Shouldn’t these type of weapons be reserved for military and police?

3.Why is music that blatantly glorifies gun violence readily played across the air waves of our country? We complain about violence in our society; however, we listen (and buy) music that glorifies gun use and gang violence then we wonder why our teens are being killed due to gun violence. To make matters even worse, there are parents whom have guns in their homes and they do not properly store or educate our children on their dangers.

In the end, a real discussion across political parties has to be had in this country about gun control. A conversation that is real, logical and most importantly figures out how to make our children safer. Don’t make the conversations about the cold, calculated killers like Adam Lanza but make it about those 26 beautiful teachers and students who were killed in Newtown, CT. They deserve it.

BMWK – what are your thoughts on gun control?

About the author

Franchesca Warren wrote 44 articles on this blog.

Franchesca Warren is writer, author, blogger, educator, runner, entrepreneur, mother and overall BossyGirl. She's currently working on her second book detailing her chronicles of working in two of the roughest urban school districts with a release date of August 2012. You can find her full-time on her blog chronicling her life trying to balance it all and run a marathon by the end of the year. In her spare time she runs her own editing company, The Editing Nerd, and working on the launch of her first magazine. For a daily account of the good, bad and ugly of being a BossyGirl follow her on Twitter!

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