Most people don’t make a move without having a cellphone close at hand. As smartphone popularity skyrockets and shows no signs of slowing down, more and more consumers have a GPS-capable device with them nearly 24 hours a day. While those systems can help solve navigational problems and track lost phones, they can also provide identity thieves with a perfect way to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

Most smartphones come equipped with ways to minimize the potential for identity theft, but it’s often up to users to enable them. Features like automatic locking, passwords, and the option to turn off Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS, all of which can give savvy thieves access to sensitive information.

A home address pre-programmed into a GPS is exactly what an identity thief would want to find, but simply leaving GPS on enables thieves to tap into information while a user is out and about. Not only can it lead them straight to a home when the owner is away, enabling a break-in; it also gives them two key pieces information they need to apply for credit cards or loans: a person’s name and home address. Surprisingly, a thief posing as someone doing a background check can access and purchase Social Security numbers. It’s that much easier for them to get access to Social Security numbers when they already have names and addresses.

The simple act of shutting off GPS functionality could mean the difference between keeping your data safe or having to deal with the nightmare of a stolen identity. Next time, switch it off and stay secure.

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