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In spite of the poor economy, parents are determined to make this Christmas the best one yet for their kids.

One of the hottest items on 2010 Christmas Lists will be a smart phone.   These clever little devices are packed with fun gadgets, games, and ringtones which make them a top choice among teens, while capabilities like parent controls and GPS locators make them a smart choice for parents.  Many parents have found that the peace of mind in being able to keep in touch with their kids is well worth the cost of a cell phone.

Unfortunately, Identity thieves love smart phones, too!  Identity thieves attack where you’re most vulnerable and that’s exactly what they are doing when it comes to kids and smart phones.    

Cell phones come equipped with simple ringtones.  There is a vast market of clever ringtones that can be downloaded for free.  However, many of these ‘free’ ringtones are offered by identity thieves as bait.  Often what is downloaded is a great deal more sinister than a ringtone.  Many of these sites can attach viruses used to steal personal information and use it for Identity Theft.

Parents should safeguard themselves by attaching strict Usage Guidelines to the gift of a smart phone.  The following are some guideline suggestions which are important to the security of your personal business and the safety of your kids:

  • Don’t send text messages to receive free ringtones.  Use the ring tone that came with the phone.  It is the only sure-fire way to avoid identity theft with ringtones.  Only buy ringtones from reputable cell phone service providers like AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.  Read the terms and conditions before you allow your kids to make any purchases.
  • Don’t put personal information like banking, credit card numbers, or even date of birth on cell phones.  The less personal information there is on a phone, the less thieves have to work with.

Most phones have the capability of setting a PIN number for the phone.

But most users never that option considering it an inconvenience.  To stay safe, set a PIN number that your child can remember.  If the phone is lost or stolen, thieves can’t open the phone and get to personal information.

Children should follow basic safety precautions to prevent losing the phone or leaving it unprotected where thieves can steal it.  Advise them to let you know immediately if they can’t find their phone.

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