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10 common things you should never store in your smartphone to protect yourself from criminals

10 common things you should never store in your smartphone to protect yourself from criminals

Time to declutter your phone of sensitive information.

Our smartphones are our link to the outside world, our payment method and so much more.

However, storing certain types of information on your phone can make you vulnerable to cyberattacks, fraud, and identity theft.

Here are ten items you should remove from your phone:

Password Master List

If your phone is compromised, a master password list can provide a hacker access to all your accounts.

Instead, use a secure password manager to keep them safe behind an encrypted vault.

Your home address

Remove any files showing your home address - including billing and bank statements - to prevent malicious use by criminals who could potentially threaten or harass you in your living space.

Additionally, disable your phone’s location services as many social media apps publish your current location when you share posts etc.

Kenny Eliason/Unsplash
Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

Loved ones' contact numbers under recognisable names

If it's easy for your identity thieves to recognise who's closest to you in your contacts, they’ll know who to target right away.

They can impersonate you by sending messages to your relatives asking for money. Instead of setting labels as Mom, Dad, or putting a heart emoji, use their first and last names to keep them discreet.

Pictures of government IDs

While it's convenient to store digital copies of your government IDs - especially for international travel - identity thieves can use these photos for fraudulent purposes.

Depending on the exposed information, criminals could potentially use it to steal your tax returns or take out loans in your name.

Logged-in social media accounts

If you're logged into your social media accounts, anyone with access to your phone can get into them.

Always log out of social apps on your phone or secure them with passwords on Android or Face ID on iPhones.

Bank account numbers and PINs

Never store your bank account numbers and PINs in your phone, especially if you use online banking. Noting these codes creates a gateway to your finances.

Use a secure method to remember them like a password manager.


Face ID and Touch ID

Fingerprint and facial scanning technologies might seem like the safer option, but they pose a risk to your safety.

If someone tries to attack you, they could easily hold your finger or face to your smartphone - have you seen the show You?

Cyber experts suggest sticking to text and number passwords for your security. More specifically, set alphanumeric strings or lengthy custom numeric codes.

Private NSFW photos and videos

Keep any sensitive personal photos or videos in password-protected folders or better yet, off your phone entirely.

Leaving these items unsecured in your photo gallery puts you at risk of sexual extortion, where perpetrators may blackmail you for additional explicit images or money.

Confidential emails and messages

Many people are unaware of the sensitive data within their messages.

Criminals can piece together information from your instant messaging apps and emails to carry out fraudulent attacks.

Regularly organise and purge your inbox of messages that contain sensitive information to prevent potential security breaches.

Sensitive documents and paperwork

Many people carelessly save documents with sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on their devices. Imagine how much damage identity thieves could do with this information.

Avoid storing documents with PII such as tax forms and medical records. Also, delete files permanently when they are no longer needed.

Featured Image Credit: d3sign/Kenstocker/ Getty