Your Apple products – especially iPhones and iPads – are juicy fruit to thieves in Florida and across the country – and there seems to be no end to the upsurge in thefts of these devices. In fact, 113 smart phones are stolen or lost every minute nationwide, according to Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney General and co-founder of the Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) Initiative.
Apple-picking catching on in the land of the orange
A quick search of the term “iPhone thefts in Florida” shows the prevalence of the problem here in the Sunshine State. Picture-taking tourists, folks enjoying Florida’s nightlife, and shoppers returning to their car in parking lots have literally had their devices ripped right out of their hands by Apple “jackers.” It’s a quick and fairly lucrative crime of opportunity – the “snatch and run” thefts contributed to a lost and stolen phone market that potentially cost U.S. consumers $30 billion in 2012 according to Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security firm.
Though many thieves sell their ill-gotten iDevices on the black market to consumers in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, some choose to keep their stolen wares. Pilfered smartphones are extremely valuable to criminals who use them to download games and music, browse the Web, make Skype calls, send text messages and obtain the owner’s sensitive personal information, such as social security and credit card numbers – the data jackpot for an identity thief.
When one bad Apple spoils your day
If someone steals your device, you could possibly file a claim under Coverage C (contents coverage) of your Florida homeowners insurance policy to recoup your costs – even if the theft occurred away from your home. Review your policy to determine the benefit of filing a claim because you’ll need to satisfy your deductible before receiving reimbursement from your insurance carrier. It’s also a great idea to obtain robust identity theft coverage that can provide you with early warning notification in the event that someone fraudulently attempts to use your personal information.
Protect yourself from iTheft with these device and data safety tips:
Before your smartphone is lost or stolen
- Secure it. Place the phone in the inside pocket of a purse and zip the pocket, or keep your phone deep down your front pocket. Never leave a phone out on the table when in a restaurant.
- Lock it. Set a hard-to-guess password to protect your device and change it on a regular basis. Your password is all that stands between your data and a thief.
- Add apps. There are a number of apps available that will remotely track, lock and/or erase your smartphone, including Apple's Find My iPhone app. In addition, some apps can remotely trigger an alarm or take a photo of the thief.
- Back it up. Regularly save your photos, emails, contacts, videos and other important information to a computer, USB drive or cloud service.
After your smartphone is lost or stolen
- Report it. Contact your local police department to report the theft and notify them about any tracking apps installed on your device. Ask the police to add the device's IMEI number to the national registry of stolen devices to help prevent its resale on the black market and inform your wireless provider immediately (so you can avoid incurring charges on the usage). Please note that if you deactivate your service, you will be unable to use technology to find your phone.
- Track it. Activate your tracking apps from a safe location. In addition to locating your phone, lock it remotely to render it useless to the thief.
- Erase It. If you don’t think your phone will be returned to you in a timely manner, remotely erase (wipe) and reset it to factory installed settings to eliminate criminals’ access to your personal information.