Business & Real Estate

California AG’s office warns consumers about mobile apps

“How mobile location services work may be technical, but you do not have to be an engineer to have more control,” the California attorney general’s office said. File photo.
“How mobile location services work may be technical, but you do not have to be an engineer to have more control,” the California attorney general’s office said. File photo. AP

Californians are advised to be careful about using locator services on their mobile devices, according to a consumer alert issued this week by the state Attorney General’s office.

Locator technology enables mobile phone and tablet users to access handy applications, such as searching for a local restaurant, getting directions or checking weather. It pinpoints your geographic location from satellites, WiFi and cell-tower networks. But in some cases, using those apps means your device’s locator function is “always on.”

“Broadcasting your location can sometimes expose you and your family to risk of theft or physical harm,” the AG’s office said in a statement.

For example, it said, “sharing a ‘selfie’” photo can be dangerous, especially for victims of stalking or domestic abuse. When you take a photo, the location may be inserted into the image file, along with a date/time stamp. When you post the photo online, you could be inadvertently revealing your location at that moment.

To protect themselves, the AG’s office advises consumers to go to the “Settings” function on their iPhone or Android phones or devices and uncheck or turn off the search function. More details are on the AG’s website, under “Getting Smart About Smartphones: Tips for Consumers.”

“How mobile location services work may be technical, but you do not have to be an engineer to have more control,” the AG’s office said. “By adjusting the settings on your mobile device, you can control location services to protect your privacy.”

Call The Bee’s Claudia Buck, (916) 321-1968. Read her Personal Finance columns at sacbee.com/claudiabuck.

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