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Improve your mobile digital document safety

If you have or are considering storing a digital ID card or other sensitive e-documents on a smartphone, you should take steps to strengthen the security that helps protect them.

Man checking document safety on his smartphone

Your smartphone is capable of doing so much more than just texting and calling. Using just a smartphone, you can pay for a birthday present, board a plane and get into a concert — all with documents that you store digitally. But while the wallet is quickly going the way of the landline for many people, it’s important to think about security risks and mobile digital document safety. Should you really store every document on a smartphone, and for those that you do, what steps can help protect that information?

Be selective with e-documents

Just because you’re storing some sensitive information directly on your smartphone doesn’t mean you have to store all your sensitive information directly on your smartphone. Think about it in terms of risk/benefit. For example, keeping a digital version of your Social Security card on your mobile device probably isn’t a great idea. The benefits are limited (you can and probably have memorized the number), and the risks are great. If identity thieves are able to snag that information, they can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life.

Lock your phone, always

It’s one thing to worry about a friend picking up your phone and seeing a text message. It’s another to lose your device with payment information floating around in the world, out of your control. Use either a strong passcode or a biometric measure (such as facial recognition) to open your smartphone.

Understand the security measures of online documents

Many digital IDs and documents require a PIN or fingerprint verification for access. That’s the case with many of the newer mobile or digital driver’s licenses now being tested in about a dozen states. These digital IDs — which cannot be swiped from a wallet or bag — could actually end up being more secure than physical cards thanks to that extra measure of security.

Use an encryption app

If you’re storing a digital ID card such as a copy of your passport or driver’s license, boost security with an app that enables encrypted document storage.

Enable remote wipe

Most smartphones are now outfitted with a feature that allows you to remotely delete data and highly sensitive documents. Check that yours is turned on; it’s typically part of common phone-finder capabilities.

Use e-document apps that store info for you

Some digital ID cards or digital information can be stored via a dedicated app so you can access what you need at any time. For example, the State Farm® mobile app offers the ability to access insurance information such as digital insurance ID cards.


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