Divorcing Spouses - Don't Be a Dummy With Your Smart Phone!
Want to make that vindictive soon-to-be ex-spouse happy? Just kindly hand over your smart phone! For anyone who has ever been through the pain of a divorce (or for you free-thinkers - a breakup with...
For anyone who has ever been through the pain of a divorce (or for you free-thinkers - a breakup with a life partner), nobody has to tell you how wrenching of an experience that can be! Increasingly, though, many people are unwittingly compounding and adding to their troubles and heartache by what information they choose to load into their phones, how they choose to store it, and how easily anyone can access this highly sensitive information.
Don't believe me?
Just get on the phone and make a call to any local divorce attorney! It won't be long until you are fully convinced of just how happily received such information as email messages, incoming/outgoing text messages, photos, calendar appointments, address books, Internet search records, and GPS tracking data are!
And that's not even counting your smart phone's call history, which these nice attorneys will also merrily go through with fine tooth comb!
Wondering how this could be used against you?
Well, do you remember the much-publicized incident in which the actor Alec Baldwin left a frustrated voice-mail with his daughter? At the time, he just so happened to be going through a child-custody battle with what could possibly be termed as the paradigm for scorned and vindictive women - the actress Kim Basinger.
If memory serves me right, she saved the message and not only leaked it to the press, but also used the message as a means in court to prevent Mr. Baldwin from having contact with his own daughter!
Mr. Baldwin's case is important to keep in mind for this reason: while no-fault divorce laws mean a spouse does not have to gather evidence of infidelity or whatever else he/she wishes to use as grounds for a divorce filing, the evidence increasingly being gathered from smart phones is being used to wage war in alimony and child custody cases.
Want statistical evidence?
Here's something: an organization called the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey of its 1,600 members, and over 90% of them cited they had experienced an increased case load in which evidence was gathered from smart phones (i.e. iPhones, Blackberries, Droids, etc.) within the previous 3 years.
What was the most common information garnered from these phones to use against divorce combatants in court?
Text messages won by a landslide!
Almost 2/3 of the evidence taken from smart phones was taken in the form of a text message. (Just ask ex-Arkansas Razorback's head coach Bobby Petrino how much damage text messages can have on a marriage - let alone what seemed to be a promising future in one of the top college football conferences in the country!)
After text messages came emails, then call histories, and finally Internet search records and GPS tracking data.
What can you do to protect personal information in your smart phone?
Once a court order has been issued to divulge personal information from an electronic device, it's too late to think about protecting this information. So, what a person needs to do is take preventive action before any such ruling is issued!
Now, I'm not an attorney, and I'm sure, as with most things in life, there are exceptions to every rule, but a spouse cannot legally gain access to your smart phone without your consent. If a spouse gathers information illegally, it stands to reason that this information won't be admissible in a court of law.
But I sure wouldn't bank on that!
So, with that said, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage as much as possible should a warring spouse throw caution to the wind and try to gain access to your smart phone's records - at all costs.
(1) Think carefully about you write! As noted earlier, text messages accounted for almost 2/3 of the evidence divorce attorneys gathered from a smart phone. Once you have hit the “send” key or button, things are pretty much out of your hands. So, make sure that what you decide to send in the form of a text message or email is something you would not fear landing in the sight of someone who could potentially use it against you.
Think about how the mob have managed to stay in business for so long - they work very, very hard on NOT leaving any kind of trail! That means no text messages, no emails, no voice mails - no using a phone, period!
That may be an extreme example, but a very instructive one to follow if you would like to avoid having your own words (whether spoken or written) used against you at some point down the road.
(2) Protect your smart phone the same as you would a computer. This means protecting your smart phone with a password that is very difficult to guess. So, use a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols.
Secondly, don't save your password on a text document within your smart phone. There a separate programs available on websites like 1Password that work with both PC and Mac devices. A program like this stores, in one place, every sensitive and confidential password you may have (i.e. financial passwords, website passwords, electronic device passwords, etc.).
(3) Use a backup and wiping service. A backup program (accessed through your wireless service provider or phone manufacturer) enables the transfer of your phone's data to your personal computer - which you should have password protected as well.
A wiping service is a program that enables you to quickly and easily erase data from your smart phone.
(4) Don't use an open WiFi connection. Using an open WiFi connection leaves you vulnerable to hackers - and if you have a particularly clever and vindictive spouse you are contending with, you shouldn't expect he or she to rise above the tactic of attempting to hack into your phone.
(5) Keep your phone in a safe place. While this may seem like advice not even worth mentioning, I can assure you that the fastest and easiest way to gain access to sensitive information contained within your smart phone is not by means of hacking, but simply by being able to turn the phone on!
So, make sure you know where your smart phone is at all times!
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So, there you go! If you want to keep information contained within your smart phone safe from a rampaging spouse, these tips should help you in doing just that. Times have a changed a bit from just having the ability to perform a reverse phone lookup to learn the identify of an unknown phone number discovered on your phone. Now, a person can pretty much find out anything about you - right down to where you are right now, thanks to the GPS tracking device contained within your smart phone!