As students return to school, the Better Business Bureau reminds parents to talk to them about different ways to keep their cell phones, iPads, iPods, laptops and other electronic devices safe.
College campuses, cafeterias, local hang outs and even classrooms can be an easy target for those looking to steal expensive electronic devices, said Mary Hawkes, director of the Better Business Bureau's Yavapai County office.
Not only can thieves steal your personal property, they could also gain access to sensitive information such as emails, text messages, calendars, photos and even social media network logins, Hawkes said.
"These electronics should be treated like a pile of cash; it's a significant financial investment that should be protected at all times," said Matthew Fehling, BBB president.
To keep personal property and sensitive information safe:
Use password protections. Even if a thief steals your electronic device, having password protections could limit their access to your personal information. Avoid sharing passwords with friends or carrying them around on paper.
Keep it off the floor. No matter where you are in public - a large study hall in school, a conference, a coffee shop, or a registration desk - avoid putting your electronics on the floor. If you must put it down, place it between your feet or at least up against your leg, so you're aware of it.
Leave it at home. In some cases, school districts may have strict policies about students bringing electronic devices to campus. Be sure to find out what is allowed while on campus and in the classroom. Also, determine if you really need your electronics during school hours or if they can wait until you get home.
Get it out of the car. Don't leave your electronics in the car - not on the seat, not in the trunk. Parked cars are a favorite target of thieves; don't help them by leaving your property unattended.
Don't leave it "for just a minute." Your classmates seem trustworthy, so you're comfortable leaving your electronics on the table while you go outside for a break. The people at the coffee shop seem nice, so you ask them to keep an eye out while you use the restroom. Don't leave your laptop, iPad or other electronics unguarded - not even for a minute.
Use bells and whistles. Depending on your security needs, an alarm can be a useful tool. Some laptop alarms sound when there's unexpected motion, or when the computer moves outside a specified range around you. Also, consider a kind of "Lojack" for your laptop: a program that reports the location of your stolen laptop once it's connected to the internet.
For additional information, go online to www.arizonabbb.org.