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Cell Phone Security Apps and Other Ways to Lock Down Your Phone

The first iPhone was released June 29, 2007, ushering in a new era of mobile gadgets. Smart phones have allowed us to take the internet with us wherever we go, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of apps designed to make our lives easier.

One of the reasons smart phones are so cool also makes them vulnerable to theft—their portability. It’s not too challenging for a thief to snatch an iPhone from an unsuspecting pedestrian and take off running.
Thankfully, as smart phones have gotten more advanced, so have the security features designed to reduce theft. In fact, the development of a “kill switch” for the latest iPhone resulted in a 38% drop in robberies in San Francisco, and a 24% drop in London, according to the New York Times.

Let’s take a look at some of the more advanced smart phone security features that can help make sure you’re not a victim of theft.

‘Kill Switch’ Security App

The name “kill switch” is a little deceiving. It doesn’t kill anyone, and it doesn’t even kill your phone. It simply renders it useless for would-be robbers.

A kill switch, sometimes called an “activation lock,” is a security app to lock your phone remotely if you suspect it’s been lost or stolen. Suddenly, the street value of your smart phone is reduced to zero, dissuading any would-be robbers from snatching and grabbing phones in the future.

Fingerprint Locking

Cell phones have had locking capabilities for years now to provide basic cell phone security. Typically, it’s a four-digit code or some kind of pattern, but several smart phones feature fingerprint locking, making it even harder (or even impossible) for someone to hack into your phone.

Wireless Proximity Alarm

A wireless proximity alarm is an actual physical product rather than a security app that alerts you when your phone has gotten away from you. Basically, it’s a small fob you can attach to your keys or keep in your purse, and you can wirelessly connect it to your smart phone through an app. The alarm will go off if your phone reaches a certain distance from the fob, alerting you if you’ve accidentally left your phone behind or if a robber has walked off with it.

Facial Recognition Lock

Cell phone security has gotten so futuristic that all you have to do is look at your phone to unlock it. With facial recognition software, your phone will only open up to someone who has the exact same facial features as you. Unless you have an identical twin, then you’d be the only one with access to your phone’s contents.

‘Find My iPhone’ Security App and Other Remote Locating Features

Smart phones are probably lost more than they’re stolen. If you’re the kind of person who compulsively leaves your iPhone behind at restaurants and bars, or who can’t seem to locate it in the morning when you have to leave for work, then this security feature is for you.

With the “Find My iPhone” security app, you can go onto your computer and locate your phone through GPS, and even make it give off an alarm so you can find it quickly.

No matter what kind of smart phone you own, chances are it has one of the security features listed above, and probably something even more futuristic. However, no matter how advanced our phones get, common sense is probably the best anti-theft device widely available to everyone.

Protect your money with safe and secure financial transactions through Check City, such as money orders and bill pay services. Stop by one of our locations today!

(Travel Safety) The 11 Part Guide to Safe Travel

travel safety

Traveling can be our greatest joy and our greatest pain. But some of the hassles can actually be our own fault by making common travel mistakes.

There are a lot of things to prepare for when you’re going to go away for a while. You have lots of travel plans going on and you’re excited to see new places, have unique experiences, and get some much-deserved relaxation time.

But traveling can be dangerous too, which is why you want to educate yourself on how to travel safely and about your travel destination and route. As you learn about your vacation spot you can be sure to avoid as much trouble as possible.

Part One:

What to Do with Your Money

Be smart about the cash you carry. Don’t be flashy with your money. Don’t attract unwanted attention to yourself by flashing your cash around too much. It’s also a good idea not to carry too much cash on you at one time in case you do lose your wallet or get pickpocketed.

You should also learn about your card options in order to get the best travel credit card for emergency scenarios and traveling. Different cards will have different insurances for if your wallet gets stolen or easier freeze features so you can stop your card from getting used as soon as you realize it’s gone.

It’s always a good idea to get a wallet set-up specifically for traveling. You can get something light and portable that can easily hide in a hidden pocket on your coat, or you can get a special wallet that hides in your shoe or a belt.

Money isn’t the only valuable thing you need to take care of though. Keep your identification documents in a separate place so that they are not taken if you are pickpocketed.

Part Two:

Prepaid Phone Card

You want to have a way to make a phone call in case of an emergency.

This will come in handy if you get lost, don’t have service, lose your phone, get your phone stolen, or your phone dies or breaks.

One way to be prepared in case of a phone emergency is to carry around a prepaid phone card at all times. With a prepaid phone card, you can make emergency calls even if your cell phone is stolen.

You can easily get a prepaid phone card at a Check City Location before you head out on vacation.

Part Three:

Keep Someone Posted

Whether you’re traveling in a group or all by yourself, you should always keep someone back home posted on your status. Plan scheduled check-in times to keep in contact with someone so your whereabouts and wellbeing are kept track of in case anything should happen to you.

Make sure this designated person has keys to your house in case an emergency happens in your home while you’re away and someone needs to get in. Give them the address of your hotel so they can get ahold of you in case of emergencies as well.

Part Four:

Stranger Danger

Be careful about the friends you make while you’re traveling. Vacation can be a great time to meet new and interesting people and even make new friends. But you should still be responsible when interacting with people you don’t know.

Use common sense and make sure you remain in control of every situation you find yourself in. For instance, don’t get into the car of a stranger because that takes away all your control in that scenario. Instead, meet at a designated, public location where you can socialize in safety.

Part Five:

Beware of WiFi Scams

When you’re traveling in unfamiliar places there is also going to be unfamiliar wifi. Think twice before you accept those free, guest wifi connections. They can be a trap for scammers to get into your device and get access to your personal information.

Instead, you can bring your own portable router or you can use unlimited data on your plan instead of connecting to unsecured wifi.

Part Six:

Keep Track of Your Stuff

Losing your stuff while traveling can be a real tragedy. There are some precautions you can take to help keep track of all your valuables.

Use products from tile so you can essentially put a GPS on anything important.

You can also set up a GPS tracking system for your phone. There are GPS apps you can use to help you find your phone in case you lose it.

Travel insurance is another safety net you can set up before traveling. It will help cover the costs if you lose things or get things stolen while you’re traveling.

Part Seven:

Protect Your Home

When you’re traveling, you leave your home alone for a period of time. This can be a danger since it makes your home more vulnerable to burglars while you’re absent.

Make your home less vulnerable while you’re away by not posting too much about how you’re leaving on social media. Instead, you can wait until you get home to post all about your trip.

You could also have someone house-sit your home. You can hire someone you know to just live at your house while you’re gone, bring in the mail, and deter anyone looking for an easy mark.

But if you can’t get someone to stay at your house while you’re away, then you can set up your own home security system. This can alert your phone when someone breaks into your house. You can even install cameras in your home so you can check in on your place from your phone as well.

Part Eight:

Learn the Language

If you’re going to a foreign country you might not know the language. This can jeopardize your safety as well as cause a lot of extra hassle and stress for you. But you can learn the language!

Duolingo is a great place to go when you need to learn some language basics.

You can also buy a pocket dictionary to carry around with you. Many dictionaries will even have sections with key phrases you might need to use the most.

Part Nine:

Learn Some Geography

Do some research about where you’re going. If you learn some of the geography beforehand, then you might be less likely to get lost once you’re there.

There might also be places or parts of town you should avoid. You can look up the crime rates for the area you’re visiting to learn what places are safe and which ones are less safe.

Part Ten:

Be Prepared for Emergencies

A lot can happen when you’re out of your element.

There are a few things you can do to prepare for potential emergencies. You can memorize important phone numbers. You can also write down important phone numbers on a notecard to keep with you at all times.

Keep a hard-copy map on your person in case your phone dies.

Bring a portable charger pack with you so you can charge your phone on the go.

Have enough money on you at all times for a bus fare to get back to your hotel. Try hiding your bus fare on your person somewhere so it’s less likely to get taken if you get mugged, that way you’ll still be able to easily get home.

Part Eleven:

Know the Scams

Tourists can be especially vulnerable to scams. You don’t know the area, you aren’t familiar with the local businesses, and scammers can take advantage of that.

Different locations will also have their own common scams. Take a moment to look up the kinds of ploys and scams you should be aware of.


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