Archive for the ‘ Privacy ’ Category

Criminals Unlocking Cell Phones?

Just about everybody has a smartphone, and so it’s no surprise that cell phone robberies are skyrocketing.

Police can’t keep up with the amount of reported stolen cell phones—dozens a day in major cities—and are looking for easy ways to help keep cell phones locked.

We’re not talking about normal unlocked cell phones, which break past software to allow multiple carrier use, but preventing tampering with the hardware so it can be resold without hindrances of the past owner.

Currently, criminals can unlock cell phones by replacing the SIM card, which is the only way to currently track smart phones. Cops want to lock cell phones by hardwiring in a “fingerprint” to the cell phone, making the phone itself, and not just the SIM card, trackable to the owner. It would also allow carriers to shut down service to the phone, making reselling it unviable, and hopefully killing the trend of crimes related to smartphones.

Of course, this method requires the sacrifice of all the first people to be robbed. Shutting down the phone would make it impossible for you to unlock the cell phone from your end, (a computer accessing an app on the phone), much less track it, and any crook is likely to ditch the phone anyway once the carrier bricks it.

Better yet, take responsibility to lock cell phones—make sure to check out all the apps dedicated to helping you get your cell phone back: lock the home screen (and wipe away telling finger grease), get GPS tracking that you can access remotely to unlock your cell phone for yourself and block out the thief, and add any other programs that let you control it remotely. Sometimes criminals will sell back to the owner for a reward, which you might be able to post, with a phone number, on your display—with the cell phone locked, of course!

Find Ways To Save Money On Cell Phones

Available for Sprint.

Hidden cell phone costs are rising. If you don’t have an unlimited plan, it’s time to look for one. A used cell phone is an affordable way to change plans, if your current service has fees for cancelling.

Why are costs rising? HR 3035 could soon pass, and companies, debt collectors (fake debt collectors), and other nefarious businesses will soon be able to robocall your cell phone, text you, junk fax you (if you still have one), and ignore the fact that you signed up with the do not call registry, or that your state has laws against such things.

Make sure to contact your representatives and tell them you don’t want to see HR 3035 passed.

If you lack faith they’ll do the right thing, start saving money now by shopping used cell phones. If you pick a used cell phone that’s unlocked, you can easily take it to a carrier that has a better rate. That way when you get unsolicited calls and texts, the price won’t be so high.

Sprint and some local, smaller carriers still have unlimited phone plans. Then all you have to do is ignore the unwanted calls, not pay for them. Just bring in your used cell phone and have them help you put in the new SIM card (unless you’re going to Sprint, in which case you need a Sprint used cell phone), and transfer your phone book, photos, and more.

Remember, used cell phones are great gifts for kids and younger family members. Share in the comments how you saved money with used cell phones.


This Friday, Your Local Mall May Be Using Your Cell Phone To Track You

Black Friday is bigger every year, with more stores participating in sales, more people lining up earlier—and this year, with Black Friday shifting into Turkey Day.

In an effort to extract consumer information from mall shoppers that’s comparable to Google Analytics—Google’s service that allows web site owners to see how much traffic they get, from where, and which content’s most popular—marketers will begin testing devices this holiday season that tracks any cell phone used at the mall.

This will tell malls which stores (and parts of the mall) get the most traffic, and will tell stores which departments are the most popular. These new metrics may mean using cell phones will not only help retailers, but enhance consumer shopping experiences.

If you don’t use cell phones in the mall, however, you can opt out of being tracked. The service is supposed to be anonymous (meaning they aren’t getting private information off your cell phone) but you should never assume that any data on your cell phone is private!

A future may soon be arriving where as you shop, services use cell phones to deliver adds straight to tragetted consumers (example: have kid-targeted apps? here’s a coupon for Gap Baby!). But that day’s not here yet.

Remember, with Black Friday coming up you’ll be able to score great deals on refurbished cell phones! Great as gifts, used cell phones are often unlocked, so the recipient will be able to use them on any GSM service.

Browse used cell phone selection early, because demand is expected to be high this holiday season! Make sure you get your top pick!

More Reason For The Flexibility Of Unlocked Cell Phones

Now Google's Turning Your Phone Into A Credit Card

Most people already appreciate that unlocked cell phones help you switch carriers more easily. You can buy unlocked cell phones cheaply online (no fees or contracts), and then you can switch carriers, if, say, they change policies and limit data to 2GB/month!

But a new assortment of data shows that there may be other concerns when choosing a carrier, or deciding when to leave one using your unlocked cell phone.

It turns out, carriers store different amounts of information about you for different periods of time. Verizon seems to be the worst offender, actually storing the content of text messages, and keep IP data the longest.

T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint all keep data for differing lengths of time. If you’re concerned, make sure you have unlocked cell phones so that you can change to the best carrier for your needs/preferences, and since unlocked cell phones = jail broken cell phones usually, if there’s ever an app (like Tor for phones or something) that can help ensure privacy, it probably won’t be available in official app stores so best have unlocked cell phones!

What tips do you have for ensuring privacy when using cell phones? How do you adapt unlocked cell phones to enhance your privacy? Share your cell phone tips in the comments!

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