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Saturday March 4, 2023 9:36 am

How iPhone Thieves Can Ruin Your Digital Life in Minutes

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Smartphones, Videos

iPhone passcode entry

Imagine this: You’re at a bar with your friends, enjoying a drink and chatting. You take out your iPhone to check something and enter your passcode. You don’t notice the person behind you who’s watching your every move and memorizing your passcode. A few minutes later, they snatch your iPhone from your hand and run away.

You might think that’s bad enough, but it gets worse. Within minutes, the thief has used your passcode to gain access to your iPhone and change your Apple ID password, which enables them to disable Find My, make purchases using Apple Pay, gain access to passwords stored in iCloud Keychain, and scan through Photos for pictures of documents that contain a Social Security number or other details that could be used for identity theft.

This is not a hypothetical scenario. It’s a real threat that has been happening across the US. The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern has been hearing from victims who have lost thousands of dollars and their entire digital lives after their iPhones were stolen with the thieves obtaining their passcodes.

These thieves often work in groups with one distracting a victim while another records over a shoulder as they enter their passcode. Others have been known to even befriend victims, asking them to open social media or other apps on their iPhones so they can watch and memorize the passcode before stealing it.

A 12-person crime ring in Minnesota was recently taken down after targeting iPhones like this in bars. Almost $300,000 was stolen from 40 victims by this group before they were caught.

What can you do to protect yourself? You might be thinking, why not just use Face ID or Touch ID in public? That’s definitely one way to avoid this issue, but the feature doesn’t always work, and it can be easy to not give a second thought to manually entering a passcode as that’s what iOS asks for if Face ID or Touch ID isn’t successful.

Also, some people may not have Face ID or Touch ID set up at all.

Take These Steps to Keep Yourself Safe:

  • Use a strong alphanumeric passcode instead of a simple four- or six-digit one. This makes it harder for thieves to guess or memorize it.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID account. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a verification code sent to another device when signing in from a new device.
  • Enable Account Recovery Key for your Apple ID account. This is a unique code that only you know and can use to regain access to your account if you forget your password or lose access to your trusted devices.
  • To enable Account Recovery Key on an iPhone or Mac, go to Settings > Your Name > Password & Security > Recovery Key > Use Recovery Key and enter the device passcode .
  • Write down the recovery key and store it in a safe place (not on your iPhone), then confirm it on the next screen .
  • Be aware of your surroundings when using your iPhone in public places. Don’t let strangers see you enter your passcode or ask you to open apps on your phone.
  • If possible, use Face ID or Touch ID instead of entering your passcode manually.
  • If you lose your iPhone or suspect it has been stolen, report it immediately to the police and contact Apple Support.

Your iPhone is more than just a phone. It’s also the key to your digital life. Don’t let thieves take advantage of that by stealing both.

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