Cell Phone Safety

Cell phones contain a lot of our personal information – the people we know, the messages we send, the pictures we take, the websites we visit, our social media and email accounts, etc. Because of this, abusive partners often try to get access to them out as a way to spy, stalk and control. This section explores three different ways information on your cell phone can be misused and offers suggestions for what you can do.

What Can I Do?

If you think someone is monitoring your phone using an app, and you can see the app on your phone, consider deleting it. Some spyware software, however, are “hidden” and you can’t see it when you scroll through your phone. To remove this type of monitoring software, reset your phone to factory settings. When you set up your phone again, set it up like a brand new phone and don’t use the old back up. Sometimes, the other person may know about your phone activity because they have access to your wireless phone account. Call your wireless carrier and ask for additional security on your account, such as a second password. If you have an online account, change your password into something that the other person can’t guess. If you want the police to investigate, want to continue documenting the monitoring, or aren’t ready to remove the monitoring app or software, don’t delete the app or reset your phone. However, be careful about what you do on the phone because the person monitoring the phone may see it. You may want to get a second phone that isn’t being monitored.

Safety Tips

Put a passcode on your phone to make harder for someone to get into it.

If you’re not using Bluetooth, consider turning it off. You can turn it back on when you need to use it.

Try not to store sensitive information on your phone. The less information on there, the less information someone will get if they get into your phone

For many smartphone, the iCloud or Google account associated with the phone may contain a lot of information about the phone, including backups of the phone data. Use strong passwords for these accounts.

What Can I Do?

Start by narrowing down what information this person knows and where he or she might have gotten that information. Figuring this out will help you create safety strategies specific to what he or she doing. If the other person is using your phone to track your location, then look to see if there is an app or a service turned on that you don’t know about. Many family locator apps are not hidden, which means you can see the app on your phone. If it is an app, consider deleting it. If it’s a family locating service provided through the wireless carrier, you will need to contact the phone company and ask that it be removed. Go through the privacy settings on your phone and app. Most social media allow users to turn off location sharing.

Safety Tips

Review the privacy settings on your phone. Most phones have location settings that allow you to control which app can access your location.

Consider turning off the location on your phone when you’re not using it and turning it back on when you need it.

Call your wireless carrier to make sure that there are no additional authorized managers or users on your account. Ask for additional security, such as a second password on your account, so if anyone calls to request a change to your account, she or he must have that second password.

If the abusive person has administrative access to your wireless phone account, you may want to remove his or her access. If that’s not possible, consider removing your phone line from that account.

Put a passcode on your phone, and don’t share it with other people.

What Can I Do?

Put a passcode on your phone to prevent someone else from going through your phone and therefore your apps.

If possible, log out of your apps after you use them.

Change the password to your app account. This will prevent the other person from logging into your account from another device or web browser.

Some services, such as Gmail or Facebook, allow you to remove a particular device that is logged into the account. If you suspect that someone is logging in from another device, check to see if you can remove or end those sessions.

Safety Tips

Only keep apps that you actually use on your cell phone. If you don’t know what a particular app is or why it’s on your phone, consider deleting it.

Log out of apps after you use them. If you can’t log out of the app and are concerned that someone might be able to see its content, consider deleting the app. You can always download it again from the app store.

Remember that any app you download will be in your app download list. If other people have access to your app store account, they may see the apps that you have downloaded. If that is a concern, consider not downloading the app and see if you can access that information elsewhere.

Some apps want access to your phone’s location, photos, contacts, or other information. Go through your phone’s privacy settings and limit how much information the app can access.

Keep in mind that some things you do on your app may be revealed in other places. For example, if you make a purchase through an app, that information may show up on your credit card statement.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, consider turning off the automatic download feature. This will prevent apps from automatically downloading to all devices associated with the same Apple ID.

Resources

Website: Tech Safety

Website: Safety Net’s App Safety Center

Web article: Considerations When Choosing a Safety App

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