A private investigator is cautioning consumers that they’re sharing their smartphone numbers too often.
There are a number of mobile phone security risks to which device users are exposing themselves every day without even knowing it. The result, says private investigator Thomas Martin who is a former Drug Enforcement Agency agent, is that consumers are providing third parties with access to a surprisingly large amount of information about themselves.
The cause is an over-willingness of American consumers to share their phone numbers.
Cell numbers have a direct link to our mobile phone security in a number of potential ways. According to Martin, they are being utilized to obtain a slew of different types of personal information that are being kept by just about every social network, financial institution and corporation. As a result, he issued a cautionary blog post titled, “Your cell phone number is your new Social Security number.” The bottom line of the piece was that people are not keeping their smartphone numbers adequately private and they are therefore at risk of broadly sharing their personal info.
Martin equated the mobile phone security issue of handing out a phone number to sharing a Social Security Number.
“If someone you had just met asked you for your social security number, you would likely not give it to them. What if the same person asked you for your cell phone number? My guess is that you would readily tell them the ten-digit number,” said Martin in his blog post.
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The problem is that we are asked for our contact information very frequently. Everywhere we go, we’re required to provide our phone numbers as a form of identification, confirmation or verification. What the post points out is that with that information, many organizations can obtain other information about you as well, including everything from your physical address to your email address and significantly more, depending on who is looking.
Data from Javelin Strategy & Research showed that phone number identity theft has become a considerable problem as a result of our willingness to distribute our 10-digit contact info. In 2016, about 161,000 consumers fell victim to having their mobile phone security violated in this way. This is a near doubling from 2015’s figure, which had been 84,000.