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Shoot it: 12 simple security steps to take with your smart phone

Stop, thief! Not long ago, someone stole my purse, and I experienced firsthand the nightmare of essentially reconstructing my life on paper. This hassle and identity crisis, which happens to millions of people annually, taught me to prepare for such a possibility. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates one fifth of all identity thefts nationwide may be traced to stolen wallets.

Consider these 12 key photos that could prove indispensable in an emergency or for financial savings.
Adapted from Smart Phone by Harland Quarrington, US Navy/US Government – public domain

Voila. Enter the smart phone, a convenient record-keeping device and security gadget.

A personal cellular device with a camera and password protection can be a super identity protection assistant, keeping evidence of one’s own essentials and other emergency-related or pertinent details.

12 ways to use your cell phone for savings and security

Consider these 12 key photos that could prove indispensable in an emergency or for financial savings.

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1. Accident damages

Recently, I snapped photos of my dented wheel hub after a student hit my car in the school parking lot. My insurance company greatly appreciated the on-the-spot images.

2. Calendar

Many folks use smart phone calendar programs to plan their daily activities. I prefer my old-fashioned datebook, but I keep a cell phone photo of the current month to remind me of upcoming commitments.

3. Children

My smart phone contains pictures of my kids. Who keeps wallet-sized portraits anymore, anyway? I hope I never need these images for an emergency, but I enjoy sharing them with friends.

4. Coupons

I cut clutter and prepare for savings by keeping helpful coupons as cell phone photos. If a favorite shop sends a postcard or tear-off coupon, I shoot it and store it for my next visit. The cashiers simply scan the coupon codes from my phone screen.

Cents- or dollars-off coupons may not represent major savings or personal security, but they are easy to obtain, so why not?

5. Credit cards

By clicking pictures of my credit cards (both sides), I document the numbers and lost card procedures. If a thief swipes my wallet, I can cancel my cards on the spot.

At the same time, I have an easy reference for internet shopping. I can pull the card information from my phone, instead of hunting for my purse while online.

6. Crime scenes

Have you ever witnessed a crime or noticed something suspicious? Snap to it!

A youth approached me in my yard and asked pointed questions about my home security. As he left, I took photos of the boy and his bike. The police matched the pictures to descriptions in recent police reports and promptly picked up the rascal.

7. Driver’s license and identification cards

Replacing a lost license or state ID card is a hassle without backup records. I keep a copy of my license (both sides) on my phone. Sure, I need the real thing for driving or age identification. But the information could be handy, if I had to replace the missing document.

8. License plates

One evening, a zooming car swerved in front of our family car, nearly running us off the pavement. I clicked a photo of the offending driver’s license plate. We spotted a parked patrol car a few moments later and passed along the information. The officer radioed ahead to a colleague, who set up a lookout.

Who knows? Maybe his quick action prevented a possible accident up the road.

9. Passport

A few months ago, I traveled overseas. Waiting in the airport departure gate, I photographed the key pages of my passport with my phone. I did not lose my passport on the trip, but I felt safer with the backup copy.

10. Pets

Our dog and cat are microchipped. My horse has a lip tattoo. Even so, I keep photos of them on my phone. I hope I never have to use these images for lost or stolen pet identification, but I have them ready.

11. Valuables

Do you have any particularly pricey items in your home or vehicle? (Don’t answer that.) Just snap photos of them, especially before leaving for a trip.

Cell phone images may or may not be legally admissible as court evidence, should the need arise, but they can certainly provide helpful details and peace of mind, in case of unforeseen mishaps. Isn’t that added savings and security worthwhile?

12. eXtra cash

OK, this isn’t actually a photo, but it’s a helpful tip for smart phone users.

Why not tuck a spare $20 inside your cell phone case for emergencies? I’ve bought gasoline, essential groceries, and even movie tickets with my just-in-case cash. On bike rides, runs, or walks, I’ve purchased water bottles with this secret bill too.

This assumes, of course, that your smart phone case snaps on and off to accommodate the folded currency.

What if a cell phone is stolen with all that private information stored on it?

For added security, I copy these security and savings images to my main computer for double storage. If my phone vanishes, these photos will not disappear with it.

What’s more, my cell phone’s menu opens with a digital combination. If the wrong password is entered more than a time or two, the phone locks.

Camera phones may be popular for celebrity watching, sports events, travel, and social networking posts. But these handy devices also offer quick and easy security and savings features.