Release date 04/17/2014
YONKERS, NY — Smart phone theft is on the rise. About 3.1 million Americans were the victims of smart phone theft in 2013, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual State of the Net survey. That’s nearly double the 1.6 million thefts that the company projected in 2012.
At least 1.4 million smart phones were lost and not recovered last year, up slightly from the 1.2 million in 2012, Consumer Reports projects. On a positive note – the proportion of smart phone users who set a screen lock with a 4-digit pin increased by about 50 percent in 2013. Still, the vast majority of smart phone owners neglected to take more aggressive measures, such as using screen locks stronger than 4 digits or installing software that could locate their phone or remotely erase its contents.
How smart-phone users secure their phones:
Set a screen lock with a 4-digit pin (36 percent)
Backed up data to a computer or online (29 percent)
Installed software that can locate the phone (22 percent)
Installed an antivirus app (14 percent)
Used a PIN longer than 4 digits, a password, or unlock pattern (11 percent)
Installed software that can erase the contents of the smart phone (8 percent)
Used security features other than screen lock (e.g. encryption) (7 percent)
Took none of these security measures (34 percent)
“Given how much personal information smart phones can contain – from photos, contacts, email accounts to social-networks, shopping, and banking apps – losing one of these devices or having one stolen can definitely be cause for panic,” said Glenn Derene, Electronics Editor, Consumer Reports. “Our survey revealed that the number of lost and stolen smart phones is on the rise, and too many smart-phone users are needlessly imperiling their personal data by not taking basic security measures.”
Additional findings from the Consumer Reports Annual State of the Net Survey, as well as advice on what steps consumers can take to secure their smart phone and what to do if it gets lost or stolen, can be found online at ConsumerReports.org.
Consumer Reports State of the Net Survey
The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted its annual State of the Net survey in January, 2014. The findings are nationally representative of U.S. adult Internet users. Participants were-3,110 adults with a home Internet connection who were part of an online panel convened by GfK, a leading research company. From those respondents, we made national projections. The margin of error for the full sample was ± 1.8 percent, and ± 2.4 percent for the subset of Internet-connected smart phone owners, both at a 95 percent confidence level.
About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.