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Stolen cell phone leads to a loss of R$ 140 thousand; know what to do to protect yourself

On Friday (6), the story of a talent agent from São Paulo went viral on Twitter. Bruno de Paula, 36, narrated on his account @MrVanDep, on Twitter, how his life became a nightmare after his cell phone was stolen and how, in a few days, he found himself facing a loss of more than BRL 140 thousand.

De Paula says that after three weeks of vacation in Barcelona, ​​Spain, he returned home but, still on the way from the airport to his residence, his cell phone was stolen. The taxi that took him was stopped at a traffic light and the thief took advantage of the moment to reach through the window and take the device. “It was awful, but it’s just a cell phone. Then buy another one,” he wrote. Seconds later, he realized the problem: the device was unlocked.

“No one knows my passwords and I never wrote them down. My accounts at Banco do Brasil and Nubank are with facial recognition, there is no way to get in”, she said. But when he got home and picked up an old cell phone he had, just to check, he logged into his email account and found himself with a loss of R$ 27,000.

Faced with the fraud, the agent contacted Claro, his cell phone operator, to block the number, and with the banks in which he had an account – the step by step recommended by the security agencies. He went to sleep imagining that his damage would be great, but he had stopped there. When he woke up the next day, the nightmare increased.

Bank fraud also reached MercadopPago, PagSeguro and even iFood, which received seven orders from the fraudsters for bottles of 12-year-old Buchanans whiskey, at a cost of R$329 each.

The end of the story was happy: after the situation went “viral”, with more than 200,000 interactions, the companies involved contacted the consumer and committed to carrying out a reversal of all transactions. The story, however, generated many comments from customers who are in the same situation.

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Increase in occurrences

Stories like that of the talent agent are increasingly common. According to data from the Secretary of Public Security of the State of São Paulo, cell phone thefts have already reached levels equal to, or higher than, those reached before the pandemic. In January 2022 alone, for example, there were 12,654 reports of cell phone thefts, against 10,021 registered in January 2020. Thefts, when there is no use of violence, also grew.

In the first two months of the year alone, 689 cell phones were stolen per day. But what could be the loss of a work object and generate a nuisance to find contacts again, can go much further than that.

Bruno summed up in a tweet how he felt from the moment of the theft to the final resolution: “the worst week of my life. It’s not just about the money, it’s the despair, the fear, the trauma. Every time e-mail arrives, I think they’re trying to break in. I wake up every hour to look. I have no peace, I’m not eating or sleeping. I just want it to end,” he wrote.

What to do if your cell phone is stolen?

The Brazilian Federation of Banks, Febraban, suggests to consumers that after a theft or theft of a device, look for a computer or other device as soon as possible to erase the device.

In the case of devices with Android operating system, you need to access android.com/find, enter login and password and click on “delete device”.

For those who have an iPhone, which works with the IOS system, it is necessary to access icloud.com, enter login and password, locate iphone and click on “delete device”.

The next step is to change the password for the account associated with the cell phone, to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and to block the telephone line and the IMEI, International Mobile Equipment Identity, the international identification of the equipment. This number formed by four groups of numbers is equivalent to the chassis of a car. To find your IMEI dial *#06# on your cell phone. Write the number down on a piece of paper or a device and keep it in a safe place.

The next step should be to contact your bank’s service channels to report the theft and block all your accounts and cards.

It is also important to block the line, to prevent it from being used for other frauds. For this, the consumer can block the chip over the internet.

In addition, it is essential to file an incident report. In São Paulo, cases of theft (without violence) can be registered online, at this link.

To keep track of their finances, consumers can also access the Registrato, a free service provided by the Central Bank that allows them to monitor the accounts linked to their CPF and contain the list of debts in their name with financial institutions.

If, even so, fraud occurs, consumers must file formal complaints with the financial institutions themselves, through the agency, SAC or ombudsman, through the consumer.gov.br website or through the Central Bank. In the latter case, financial institutions have up to 10 working days to respond to citizens with a copy to the BC.

The BC maintains a quarterly updated ranking of complaints open to the public and lists, for example, the Top 15 banks, finance and payment institutions with the most complaints. In the most recent data, from the last quarter of 2021, for example, financial institutions C6, BMG and BTG Pactual occupied the top three positions.

Consumers who feel harmed by other platforms and services can also seek Procon and customer relationship sites, such as Reclame Aqui.

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How to make your device more secure now?

lock the chip

To add an extra layer of security to your device, discover and activate your PIN. The PIN is one of those codes that comes with a chip and helps keep the device secure. It is an acronym for Personal Identification Number (or personal identification number, in a free translation).

This code is normally printed on the card from which the chip is detached and works as a personal password that can lock or unlock the chip. That way, every time the user changes the device chip, he will have to enter the security code.

After three wrong attempts, the chip is blocked and can only be recovered using another password: the PUK or PIN Unlock Key. This one, in turn, if it has 10 wrong attempts in a row, will definitely block and make that chip unfeasible.

Each carrier uses a standard PIN number, so it’s interesting for consumers to change the information to something personalized. You can make this change on the device itself.

updated operating system

In addition to protecting your SIM card, keep your phone’s operating system and banking apps up to date. Also avoid writing down passwords, don’t keep photos of your documents on your device or in the cloud, and whenever possible, use two-factor authentication on your device.

device settings

Most smartphones allow a setting that locks the phone’s screen after a few seconds of not being used. Adjust to the minimum time allowed by the system.

You can also restrict device usage by placing banking or financial services applications in password-protected folders.

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