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Off the Record

Protect your apps

Technology has progressed in my lifetime faster than I can keep up.

When I was 9, we got a brand new typewriter. I was very excited, and felt ahead of the curve. Then at the age of 12, we purchased a computer and even got internet.

Now, there are MP3 players, movies and books that can download right to your Smartphone. Essentially, the ever popular saying, "there's an app for that," is true for just about anything these days.

Even tax season is easier than ever with a "MyTaxRefund" app, available for Smartphones.

I'm just amazed, awed and a bit frightened at where we are headed in the technology world.

Though many folks readily participate in downloading whatever they want in a matter of seconds, it would be wise to remember a few safety tips released by experts before delving into this multimedia world.

The Identity Theft Resource Center says the first thing one should do to protect themselves is to password-protect their phones. With a plethora of personal information stored at the fingertips of whoever gets ahold of the phone, installing a password would indeed make it a bit more difficult to access your private information.

But if your phone is lost or stolen, there's an app for that too. Unfortunately, you would need to have installed it beforehand. The resource center says there is a "phone finder" app that is designed to help you find your phone once it is misplaced.

Some apps ask for social security numbers and bank routing information, that's usually OK, unless the data is entered with a publicly accessible internet connection.

While I daily check my bank account balance from the comfort of wherever I'm at, deposit checks and even make e-mail transactions through my phone's technology, it's sensible to remember that if you're banking through a local café or Wi-Fi connection, don't do it.

The resource center says it's much safer to use your phone's network provider, because that is not a freely accessible network.

If I ever lost my phone, I might feel as though I'm lost. When I accidently leave the house without it, I feel like a part of me is missing. So it's safe to say, the best and final tip is to know at all times where your lifeline is. Some say to even treat it like you would if it were your wallet or social security card.

For more information on Smartphone safety tips, visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org.

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