On Your Side Alert: Your phone is tracking you

On Your Side Alert: Your phone is tracking you

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you have a smart phone, you are being tracked right now. In fact, a new report says you are being spied on and your location is being shared thousands of times weekly.

Almost everyone has one, and some people just can't live without them. Erin Mitten with Cell Phone Technicians says it's like an addiction. He says the need to be connected translates to money for your phone carrier. "They know your age, who you are,your demographic, where you live," he says.

A recent study by Carnegie Mellon says your phone shares your location more than 5,000 times over the course of just several days. Many times the culprits are the apps you download. But even before you install anything, Mitten says your phone is already spying. "When you accept the terms and conditions, it actually says that they have full access to monitor your movements and everything else. You can't opt out of opening the phone and using the phone,"Mitten said.

Mitten says a way to minimize how your phone tracks you is to read the privacy policy before you download an app and also check your phone's settings. Many times you can turn off an app's ability to follow your every move. With a smart phone, there is no 100 percent way to prevent the tracking. If you're concerned about privacy, you may want to consider the good old fashioned "flip phone." "Many of my customers come into Cell Phone Technicians and say what's being tracked? The answer is everything," Mitten said.

Mitten says many times, your cell phone carrier sells the information it's collecting to other companies, who then try to sell you more items or get you to visit their stores. "My wife could care less. Send her all the coupons you want, she will buy it all. But some people want to keep their privacy, so the only real way to check that is to before you download an app look at the privacy settings," he said.

What really gets you into trouble are those so called "free" apps. Mittens says they may not charge you, but they are collecting tons of information and cashing in. You could be giving apps access to things like your location, camera, microphone and more. "I don't want that invasion of privacy because ultimately what happens when an insurance carriers say hmm, Gray Hall drives to work at peak times, we need to raise his rates because we now have true data about his traffic," Mitten said.

The next time you download an app, ask yourself what is it collecting and why and is it worth your privacy. Experts say when it comes to tracking you, it doesn't matter if you use an Android or an Apple phone.


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