Smartphone Privacy Tips


Never leave your smartphone unattended.

Use Wi-Fi networks cautiously and turn Bluetooth off when not in use.

Disable photo geotagging on your phone.

Research apps before you download them:

  • When browsing an app store, look at how many people have downloaded the app you are interested in and what rankings they have given it. Look up the app’s privacy ratings on Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s
  • Look for a privacy policy and terms of service. If the app download screen doesn’t show it, usually the app’s webpage will, but you might have to do a little hunting.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this app requesting access to only the data it needs to function?” If the answer is no, don’t download it. If you are using an Android, the install screen will give you details about what data it will access. Unfortunately, iPhone apps don’t have an install screen, but you can see what apps want to access your location by going to Settings > General > Location Services.

Consider writing to the companies involved (such as Apple and Google) and request stronger safeguards for apps to protect your data from being shared with third parties without your prior consent.

Password protect your phone. You can usually find this feature in the phone “Settings.” Never leave your phone unattended. Do not have your smartphone remember login passwords for access to email, VPN, and other accounts.

When disposing of, recycling, or donating your smartphone, be sure to remove the SIM card and wipe or reset the phone first.  Thieves may prey upon phone recycling kiosks.

The FTC does not resolve individual complaints, but if you believe that a particular company is engaging in wrongdoing (for example if it has violated its privacy policy) you can submit a complaint.

Try the Federal Communications Commission’s interactive Smartphone Security Checker at  This online tool  creates a 10-step action plan to help consumers protect their mobile devices from smartphone-related cybersecurity threats.


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