identity theft, privacy, cell phone, mobile phone

If you follow our CEO, Milton Bartley, on LinkedIn, you’ll know he warned a few days ago about providing your cell phone number as part of your account, especially on the web.

As he noted, “your phone is rich with other data that can be mined by clever hackers.”

Here’s what he’s talking about: You’ve probably provided your cell number innumerable times on applications, for log-ins –  you name it.

Well, as the New York Times’ Personal Tech columnist Brian X. Chen noted this past week, giving your cell phone number now means people working the Web can learn all kinds of things about you.

“Our mobile phone numbers have become permanently attached to us because we rarely change them, porting them from job to job and place to place,” Chen writes. “At the same time, the string of digits has increasingly become connected to apps and online services that are hooked into our personal lives. … In fact, your phone number may have now become an even stronger identifier than your full name.”

The column talks about White Pages Premium, a $5-a-month service that told a researcher in an hour Chen’s past addresses, the full names of his close relatives, a prior mortgage he had taken out, and more. If you have applied for a loan recently – or answered a log-in security question – some of this information may ring a bell.

In fact, it probably should be ringing alarm bells. Hackers use automation to gather identity data. If it takes a researcher only 60 minutes of a manual search to get many of the data points loan applications require, think how fast a bot could do it.

As our CEO said on LinkedIn, “Think twice before you enter your precious phone number into a website form.”