Your cell phone is an easy target for pickpockets and identity thieves. Keep it safe. By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance From Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2013 A smart phone puts your e-mail in-box, contact list and financial accounts at your fingertips. But information could easily land in a stranger's hands. Here's how to protect your phone.See Also: 10 Ways to Make Your Smart Phone Pay for Itself Step 1Open your phone’s security settings and select a password, PIN or pattern to lock the screen. You’ll enter it each time you use your phone. Step 2Set up the ability to track your phone’s location online and erase its data in case the phone is lost or stolen. Android users can download an app such as the free Android Lost. The iPhone comes with Find My iPhone, which you must activate on the device through iCloud. Windows Phone owners can log in to their Microsoft accounts to use the built-in Find My Phone feature. Step 3Before downloading an unfamiliar app, search the Web for reviews to verify that its developer is legitimate. For online activity, using your cellular data plan helps keep your information safe. If you turn on Wi-Fi through your phone’s network settings, avoid unsecured networks (you’ll have to enter a password to access secured Wi-Fi). Install software updates as soon as you receive notices about them. And log out of banking apps after you use them (as well as any others that might include sensitive data). The payoff Your data stays private.