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Prevent Theft of Mobile Phones

Prevent Theft of Mobile Phones

  • We are a very small, member-supported non-profit with annual budget of less than $10,000 a year.  Even $35/month makes a difference to us.

    In the past two years, the credit card charges that we have been incurring seem to rise every few months, to the point where we are seriously questioning whether to cancel it. We call an 800 number and key in the credit card and charge amount, and get a reference code in return.  The machines for live, on-line hookups are too expensive.  We do maybe 20 -25 credit card transactions a year.  Very small potatoes.

    We've been talking about getting a smart phone that can also process credit cards, but the data plans are about $100 a month, and considering we only do one or two transactions a month, its definitely not worth it. But if we could use it for our internet connection, then it would be close to a wash with the business line phone and internet. 

    The main concern now is that I'm worried that the phone will be stolen.  We are open to the public, and our volunteer staffers get busy, and I can easily anticipate a situation where the phone gets stolen.

    Is there a way to prevent that?  To track down the phone if it is stolen? 

  • You could check with Best Buy. They carry a wide range of phones and plans. I'm thinking that they may even have a "no contract" phone that may only be around $20 per month in usage fees.

    Next, I'd check out "Square.com". They have an APP for the phone that processes the credit card at a 2.75% fee per transaction. No monthly fees. Nothing more. They send you the FREE Mobile Card Reader. It's really easy to use. And the money is deposited into your account the next day! (We use it at all of our fund raising events!)

    Finally, regarding the worry about whether the phone may get stolen. Yes, these days there are all sorts of people out there. The only thing I can offer is to create some kind of wrist band so the employee must slip on the wrist band, attached to the phone and it makes it more difficult for them to put it down and walk away. You could also make a cover for it that looks like a $100 bill and explain to the employees that when they set down the phone and walk away, it's like leaving a $100 bill on the counter and walking away.

    For security, you could have the app called "Find my Phone", however, it's only good for when you've misplaced it and it sends out a sound (so you can find it in your desk or your purse). I set my phone down for a second to look at a display at a conference and within seconds, it was gone...I immediately pressed the "Find my iPhone" and was saddened to see it moving farther away from me in the huge conference center with each click...only to click again and see "Location Services Disabled".  :(  

    There's very little way of regaining your phone if a criminal takes it, but all sorts of ways to try to prevent that from happening.

  • Unlimited 4G data plans for $120 per year  are available through TechSoup donor partner Mobile  Beacon -- this is a data plan that allows orgs to cheaply do financial transactions by cell phone. Learn more about this offer here.

    http://www.techsoup.org/mobile-beacon

    Barb, TechSoup Global Program Manager

     

  • Spoke to Barb - what she means is that this product, available through TechSoup, has a data plan that might be more affordable for you.

    Does anyone have more advice re: the last part of Margaret's post?

    "The main concern now is that I'm worried that the phone will be stolen.  We are open to the public, and our volunteer staffers get busy, and I can easily anticipate a situation where the phone gets stolen."

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    Jayne Cravens
    TechSoup Community Forum Manager

  • Loss prevention is a "people problem" moreso than a technical problem. While there are tools that can be installed on many devices that allow for the tracking of the device once it is reported missing, those tools are often useless as soon as the miscreant reformats the phone for his purposes.

    I suggest contacting your potential service provider to see what is available for your specific phone and carrier combination, since the possibilities are wide and broad.

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • Just found what looks like a good article, "How to Prepare for Smartphone Theft" by :

    davepeck.sharedby.co/.../jlwBRB

    He says, "Your first line of defense is to set a passcode on your device. I consider this advice non-negotiable."

    Also:

    Lookout for Android and Apple iOS: All in one security for your phone and helps you find your phone if it’s stolen or lost. With Lookout you can determine the location of your lost or stolen device, remotely sound a loud siren on your phone to help you locate it, if the battery is dead, you can get the last known location, and protect yourself from prying eyes with Lock Cam which will take a photo if someone tries unsuccessfully to unlock your phone three times in a row.
    LockApps (For BlackBerry, $1.99) enables users to lock and unlock applications on an individual basis, including BlackBerry Messenger, Gmail and Facebook, as well as SMS and MMS.
    VeriSign Identity Protection(VIP) Access (Windows Phone) is a one-time password credential that can be accessed from your mobile phone. VIP Access for Mobile works with the VIP Authentication Service — a cloud-based authentication service that helps protect users from unauthorized account access above and beyond simple usernames and passwords with an additional factor for authentication.
    Credit Karma Mobile (iPhone only) that you can use to check your credit rating for anomalies if you lose your phone or wallet.
    Mint.com app (iPhone & Android) is good for identity theft monitoring, too, since it helps you at a glance see what charges were made across all your accounts.

    This is a very new blog, so monitor the blog for additional suggestions in comments. 

    And it's worth noting that I found out about this blog from the Twitter feed for , which is actually for travelers using mobile tech, but I find stuff on it that's just terrific re: mobile tech, period. 

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    Jayne Cravens
    TechSoup Community Forum Manager

  • My company issued iPhone is password protected.  I also installed the find my iPhone app, that can remotely wipe out the phone's data, or help locate the phone.  

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
    Co-Host Networks, Hardware, & Telecommunications Forum

  • You can download applications that will help you track lost or stolen mobile phone. There are so many apps to choose from.

  • Most of the responses are directed toward what to do AFTER the phone gets stolen. The original question was how to prevent it from being stolen in the first place. That is why I suggested that prevention is a people problem rather than a technical problem. But, in an effort to help, perhaps someone out there offers a cell phone case or cover that makes a desirable iPhone look like a five year old trac phone! Surely that would make it a less attractive target.

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • "perhaps someone out there offers a cell phone case or cover that makes a desirable iPhone look like a five year old trac phone!"

    As the owner and user of an 8 year old Trac phone, I cannot stop laughing at this.

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    Jayne Cravens
    TechSoup Community Forum Manager

  • Wow Jayne, does the battery still hold a charge?

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
    Co-Host Networks, Hardware, & Telecommunications Forum

  • On a more serious note, maybe a lanyard or a wrist strap would help staff to keep the phone from sitting within arms reach of a miscreant.

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • They make a device that alerts you if you are more than 30 feet away from your bluetooth enabled cell phone. ZOMM

     wireless leash is something I saw on tv and looks like it might do the trick. 

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
    Co-Host Networks, Hardware, & Telecommunications Forum

  • You could also consider laser engraving the device with your logo and if found number. This is a good anti theft / pawnshop method. People that steal these are typically looking to sell them and if it is tattooed it could be a deterrent, assuming they see it.

  • Thank you for your help and suggestions.  I looked up Square.com, but they want someone's personal Social Security Number for our organization's use, and no one is willing to do that.  When we had a merchant account, it was not necessary, we used our organization's tax number.  And it does require a data plan, which is about $200-$300 a year, a very high percentage of the income from our credit card receipts.