Mobile devices have become an indispensable tool for many people – and the thought of losing one of those devices, or having it stolen, is disconcerting, to say the least. But it happens every day. It’s estimated that lost or stolen phones alone could cost U.S. users $30 billion in 2012.

When a phone or tablet goes missing, so does a lot of personal information. And that can lead to more than just some inconvenience – it can lead to a stolen identity.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. While identity thieves still resort to old-fashioned methods of information gathering, like going through trash and stealing wallets and purses, they can also get the personal information you store on your mobile device.

Here are three things you can do to help protect your mobile devices and your identity:

Password protect your device. A recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research found that even though many smartphones are being used to handle sensitive financial information, only 33 percent of smartphone owners password-protect their devices. If your phone falls into the wrong hands, you could make it very easy for someone to access your personal information and steal your identity.

Review your social network privacy settings. It’s not just advertisers taking advantage of the personal information you include on your social network sites. As the use of social networking continues to increase, it’s expected that the use of malware will rise, too. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal information and money. So you need to review your privacy settings frequently, be careful of what apps you install, and never “friend” someone you don’t know.

Consider getting extra protection. There are a growing number of tools available to help you monitor and protect your identity as well as restore your name and credit, should your identity get stolen. For example, Mobile Rhino is a specialty insurance program that not only insures your device, but also offers an Identity Monitoring Service that alerts you of any changes that could indicate someone else is using your information.

You can also store critical information securely with their Credential Vault – so if your wallet or device is lost or stolen, you can easily access information about your bank accounts, credit cards, insurance or serial numbers. If you do become a victim of identity theft, eligible members can get help from a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate, who will manage your recovery process and help you restore your name and credit. For more information about these services, as well as insurance protection for all your mobile devices, visit www.rhino-insurance.com.

Don’t put off implementing these kinds of safety precautions. Taking some extra time to protect your devices now can help reduce your risk of falling victim to identity theft later.

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