The thought of losing a smartphone is about enough to make any user’s blood run cold. But there’s much more at stake with a misplaced phone than just the cost of replacement or missing some calls and texts. Because of all the sensitive personal information that many of us store on our mobile devices, the loss of a phone could very easily lead to a loss of identity at the hands of thieves.

While no one can put a safety lock on their brain to guarantee never losing or misplacing a phone, there are preventive measures any smartphone user can take to head thieves off at the digital pass.

1. Use a password. It might seem like an obvious step to take, but as many as a third of smartphone owners admit they don’t password-protect their phones. Setting up a password takes only seconds, but can make data much more difficult for thieves to access.

2. Don’t stay logged into apps. If it’s convenient for a user to stay logged into-or save passwords for-Facebook or email or retail apps, then it’s that much easier for thieves to see everything they need to steal an identity. The extra minutes spent logging in are well worth it, in terms of identity protection.

3. Turn on tracking. It’s true that many smartphones have tracking functions built in, like “Find My Phone” on iPhones, but not all users are aware that the apps need to be activated. Take a few minutes and turn it on, in case the need to track a stolen device ever arises.

4. Make data disposable from a distance. Service providers and apps alike can offer capability to remotely wipe data from a device. If a smartphone is stolen, or simply lost, the owner can get rid of the very information that thieves are after.

It’s important to remember that none of these strategies should be a stand-alone option. After all, a thief could find everything he needs in the time it takes to realize that a phone has been lost. Used in tandem, these tips will protect users’ data – as well as that of their friends, family and even coworkers.

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