When I was a teenager, I used to have one of those cool nylon surfer wallets with the Velcro close, you remember those don’t ya? While pumping diesel (had a VW Rabbit) one day at an old Gulf station, I left the wallet on top of the car and drove off. Realizing that my wallet was not snug in the sun visor when I got home, I retraced my path and found it - parts of it - scattered all over Route 1. Luckily, I got most of my belongings back but had that sickened feeling of almost losing my most precious possession at the time, my fake I……um, my driver’s license. I then got a leather wallet and shoved so many things in there I could have been mistaken for George Costanza, not to mention the hole that evolved right at the bottom point of my back pocket. Not liking the bump on my butt, I eventually moved to ‘money-clip’ type holders, you know those money holder things you carry in your front pocket. I felt ‘safer’ knowing it was in my front pocket and I only carried the essentials that I needed, rather than the reams of receipts I’d have in my wallet. When I was younger, I’d use tie clips, metal binder clips, and other things until I got a nice Harley-Davidson one which holds credit cards and clips currency. I’d still feel sick if I lost it however.
Not having a wallet, purse, money clip or other currency container at all, may eventually be our new reality. You see, our smartphones are starting to carry all that digital information for us and according to a recent CNNMoney article, our smartphones are becoming one of our most dangerous possessions. We can do banking, make payments, transfer money, use the phone for loyalty card swipes along with credit card transactions. At the same time, mobile users more vulnerable to phishing attacks, some banking apps for Android, iPhone expose sensitive info, Android Trojan Emerges In U.S. Download Sites and how IPv6: Smartphones compromise users' privacy. We knew it would eventually happen but the crooks are now adapting to the explosive mobile growth, the rise of mobile banking and our never ending connection to the internet. Don’t get me wrong, like many of you, I love having email, contacts, calendar and entertainment at my fingertips along with the convenience of having all my stuff with me; but the chances of losing much more greatly increase since you have the equivalent, or even more, of all your credit cards, personal and private information and other sensitive stuff right on your smartphone. Sure there are backup programs but how many of you actually backup your computer on a weekly basis? How many have wipe or lock software installed to destroy everything on the smartphone if it is stolen? How many have tracking software if it is lost? How many have your actual home address in the GPS navigator so the offender can find where you live and visit while you are away? How many have sensitive corporate information stored on the smartphone since you use it for both personal and business use? Now I’m starting to spook myself.
Many people will willingly trade some personal info for personal convenience. You might never give a total stranger your home address and phone number but if they add, ‘in exchange, we’ll give you this branded card and you’ll get 10% off every purchase,’ more than likely, we’ll turn that personal info over. If you understand that every purchase will be scanned, sent to a database and used for marketing or as the merchant describes, to ‘provide you with the best service and offerings,’ then you might accept that. If you accept and understand the risks of doing mobile banking, transferring money, making payments and carrying around your entire life on your mobile device….and take actions to mitigate those risks, like using encryption, backups, wipe/locate software, antivirus, OS updates and other mobile security precautions along with practicing the same discretion as you would with your home computer (like not clicking links from strangers) then you should stay relatively safe. Unless, of course, you leave that digital wallet on the top of your vehicle and drive off.