At a time when cell phones are as much of a necessity for some as their car keys and wallets, it is important to be aware of what kinds of dangers are present when you choose to use a cell phone. Cell phone safety and privacy are not things that you would generally think about. However, the possibility of physical harm and of harm resulting from the theft of your private information is real and needs to be minimized.
The most important rule to follow in cell phone safety is to avoid using your phone while driving. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of car accidents and car accident fatalities where the culprit is a distracted driver who was using a cell phone. This has become such a serious problem that some state and local law enforcement authorities have put a ban on the use of cell phones while driving. Although your area may not be banned from using cell phones on the road, it is vital that you understand the risks that you are taking not only to yourself but to others as well when you talk on the phone and drive distracted. If you must speak on the phone while driving, get a hands-free device, never engage in emotional conversations, and never take your eyes off the road.
Although having someone eavesdrop on your cell phone conversations is illegal, it is nonetheless possible to do if someone has the right equipment. All that eavesdropping on a conversation really involves is intercepting the right radio waves and converting them back to the right equipment. Analog phone users are especially at risk for eavesdropping. The easiest way to protect your private conversations from eavesdroppers is to simply make sure that there is no one around you who is able to hear what you say and to avoid talking about extremely personal matters over the phone.
The information stored in your cell phone could be more revealing than you realize. Many people use their cell phones to activate their credit cards, therefore leaving a trace of that credit card information right on their phone. Recently received and called numbers are also logged on your cell phone. Make sure that you erase credit or social security numbers if you have to punch them into your phone. This is especially true if you have a hand-held device built into your phone. Be extremely cautious with what kind of information you put on your agenda. Use abbreviations or keywords if necessary in order to not divulge information that you would rather keep private.
Keep your contact list information to a minimum. You should only need a name and a number for each person in your contact list. Storing more personal information than that can put your contacts at risk if your phone is ever lost or stolen. Obviously you will want to completely erase all information on your cell phone before throwing it away or giving it to someone else. If you have had text message conversations with any of your contacts that you would rather keep private make sure to erase them from your phone.
As of 2005, cellular phones are required to have a GPS feature on them that can track your location. The reasoning behind this is so that 911 can find you in the case of an emergency. If you are concerned about someone else other than safety officials being able to track you, you can turn off this feature. However keep in mind that not having your GPS feature on can be very dangerous if you ever need help and are unable to tell dispatchers where you are.