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Scottsdale thieves stealing phones to access banking apps

Posted at 3:14 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 20:32:56-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Police say they've had four reports of phones being stolen in the Scottsdale Entertainment District.

The thieves are reportedly unlocking the phones, gaining access to popular payment apps and stealing money from the accounts.

"They don't have to hack anything," Ken Colburn with Data Doctors said. "Your information is all stored in the phone. This isn't even a hacking issue. It's just being careless."

Colburn says in order to prevent yourself from being a victim, never type in your cell phone passcode while in public. Instead, use the fingerprint scan or facial recognition available on most phones.

Colburn says people watching over your shoulder can memorize your passcode, then steal your phone and have access to just about anything. "Any thief that gets your phone, first thing they're going to do is look at your email so they can figure out which platforms your active with," Colburn said.

Which means if you stay logged into online banking apps or popular money transferring apps like VENMO, they can automatically start draining your account.

Colburn says even if you aren't logged in, the thieves can simply press "Forgot Password", change your password and re-log in. To prevent all of that from happening, Colburn says not type your passcode in public.

If your phone is stolen and a thief is able to unlock it, Colburn recommends installing a free, third party app called "Prey Anti-Theft", which allows you to lock your phone the moment it goes missing.

Data Doctors can help you install the software for free, just call 480-921-2444.

Scottsdale police recommends not storing large amounts of money on apps and using additional security steps available within apps, such as fingerprint scans.