How secure is your smartphone?

S.F. Ehrlich Associates |

Not only should you ask yourself that question, but you should also wonder about the security of the phones owned by those you love (especially seniors). An article in The Wall Street Journal1 provides a few useful questions you can ask when the opportunity for a conversation presents itself:

  • Password protection: While inconvenient at times, a password makes it harder for someone else to get into a phone. Passwords should be as complex as possible (but also easy enough to remember).  Even a simple password, while easy for a hacker to crack, is better than no password at all.
  • Software updates: Security patches close loopholes so hackers can’t get into a phone. When a smartphone provider offers updates, make sure to download them.
  • Spam filters: Smartphones often have software to protect against calls from scammers. Telephone carriers (e.g., Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) can offer additional protection.
  • Bank alerts: Many banks offer text alerts when funds are deposited or withdrawn from accounts. Not only do these alerts inform the account holder when funds flow in and out of accounts, but they can also help quickly detect fraud.
  • Credit card alerts: Similar to bank alerts, credit card notifications can tell the cardholder when their charge card has been used. These alerts may also ask the account holder to verify suspicious activity, such as a charge in an out-of-state (or country) location.
  • Trusted contacts: iPhones, for example, allow a second party to serve as a trusted contact, such as for a senior parent. If the iPhone owner, for example, were to get locked out of the device, the trusted contact could validate the owner’s identity to allow him/her to regain access to the phone. (Similar services are also offered for Google accounts.)
  • Password Organization: “For some, pencil-and-paper records stored somewhere safe can be the best option, but password managers can also help.” The problem with paper records, of course, is that they have to be carried around if someone needs a password outside their own home. Another option is using an online password manager, such as Dashlane, but those programs can be more difficult for seniors to learn.

Anything else? Ask your senior relatives if they have noticed more unwanted pop-ups or phone calls recently. There are ways to help reduce the number of unwanted contacts, so long as they’re open to either learning something new or accepting your assistance.



1 Brown, Dalvin. “Questions to Ask Seniors about Their Phones.” The Wall Street Journal, 7 Dec. 2022.



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