MINNEAPOLIS - It's not just your mail or your computer that can make you vulnerable to identity theft. The latest target is your cell phone.
The Javelin Strategy and Research firm, based in California, found approximately 161,000 people in the U.S. had their cell phone accounts hacked over the last year. That's nearly double from the year before, which was 84,000.
"I think phone numbers are a piece of data consumers are often very willing to give up," said Sean Lanterman, a technology officer with Computer Forensic Services.
It's easy to give someone your cell phone number. It's also easy for hackers to take that number and find your home address, e-mail address and much more.
"When I have your cell phone number, I can find your name, your address and from there the possibilities are endless," said Lanterman.
He agrees with Thomas Martin, a former Drug Enforcement Agency agent who posted a blog stating your cell phone number is your new social security number.
You would never give out your social security number, for obvious reasons, but now cyber security experts want you to start thinking of your phone numbers the same way, as scammers are using these numbers to their advantage.
"I can call someone, I can call anyone and make it look like the call is coming from you. And that's especially problematic when you have systems like credit card companies that automatically recognize the incoming phone number. And they recognize this incoming number is associated with the account, let's get ready to talk about things with this account," said Lanterman.
So what can you do to not fall victim? Try a Virtual Phone Number. It's a service which allows you to give out a number that isn't your real number but connected to it. Have more than one cell phone and give out the number to the phone that doesn't have apps or any of your personal information. Provide other identifying information, especially if it's a retailer ask if you can just provide an email address, zip code, or your name.