Toddler Buys Car on eBay With Dad’s Smartphone

Did you catch the story last week about the toddler who bought a car on eBay with her dad’s smartphone?  Sorella Stoute, a 14 month girl in Portland, Oregon, was playing with her dad’s smartphone.  She opened the eBay app on dad’s phone and submitted the winning bid on a 1962 Austin Healey.

Paul Stoute, Sorella’s dad, didn’t find out about what Sorella had done until he received the email from eBay letting him know he’d submitted the winning bid on the 1962 Austin Healey Sprite.  Like most of us, he thought it was a hoax, but contacted eBay to see what happened.  eBay officials confirmed that his account had submitted the winning bid and the car was his, whether he wanted it or not.

The good news for dad, Paul, was:

  • The car was in state (it could have been anywhere)
  • He was only out $225

Paul ultimately decided to keep the car.  The Stoute’s live in a condo in Portland and don’t have room to store Sorella’s new car so they are storing it at grandma’s house.  The car may be restored and given to Sorella when she turns 16 or graduates from high school.

To help keep this from happening again, Paul changed the PIN code on his eBay account and activated the facial recognition technology on his smartphone.

I love this story and it even has a tie in with one of the topics I’ve written on, identity theft.  I would not refer to Sorella’s actions as identity theft, after all, she’s only 14 months old, but her actions do provide an excellent illustration of how vulnerable we are with our smartphones.

What can you do to protect against this from happening to you if your smartphone were lost or stolen?  Let’s start with the basics first:

  • Have a login for your smart phone:  This is the first line of defense.  Symantec noted in 2011 that 54% of all smartphone users don’t have a login code.
  • Monitor Your Kids:  If you let your kids play with your phone, check in to see what they’re doing.  You wouldn’t want them sending an email or text message to a client any more than you want them shopping on Amazon or eBay.
  • Public Wi-Fi:  I love the ability to work with my phone anywhere, but when my phone is taking advantage of someone’s free Wi-Fi, I don’t bank or use any app that contains private data.

If you’re already doing the basics, then it’s time to graduate to the next level.  There are a number of security oriented apps worth exploring for iPhones and Android models.  These apps do some amazing things such as:

  • Find a lost phone or tablet
  • Wipe the phone or tablet if it’s stolen
  • Create secure folders to store and / or encrypt sensitive data (passwords, pictures, videos, bank account & credit card info, etc.)
  • Encrypt your data traffic when in a public Wi-Fi area
  • Anti-virus, spam control and more

This is just part of the list of available apps.  Some are free and most are low cost which means you can fully protect yourself without laying out a lot of money.  Here are links to 4 articles worth reading.  The first two are for iPhones and the second two are for Android models.

There’s some excellent information in each of these articles that should be very useful for both your smartphone and your iPad or Android tablet.  What’s good for the smartphone is good for the tablet!  After all, I could laugh at one of my grandkids buying a $225 Austin Healy, but I’d sure hate to be on the hook for a Porsche 911, Bentley or Mercedes Benz!

What are you doing to secure your smartphone or tablet?  Share your experiences, recommendations, and questions with me on our Google + and Facebook pages, or in the comments section of our blog.  We’re all in this together and there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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