According to the Pew Research Center, as of September 2012, 45% of all American adults own a smartphone.  As mobile devices continue to play a bigger role in our daily lives, whether they’re being used to manage finances, keep up on social networks, or communicate, you want to make sure that your information and data is safe and secure.

Mobile devices may be small and lightweight and easy to carry with you — but they are also easy to misplace and lose.

Here are three best practices to make sure your mobile device is safe and secure at all times:

1.     Protect Your Device. It’s important to create a strong password that is easy to remember, but hard to guess. Try to avoid using a date, year, or family name. A strong password usually has both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non- alphabetical character. If your device has anauto-lock feature, remember to active it. A best practice is for people to set the auto-lock to take effect five minutes from the last activity.

2.     Secure Your Device & Prevent Data Loss. Remember to back up the data on your device regularly (once every couple weeks). That way you won’t lose any contacts, pictures, notes, etc. if it goes missing. It’s also good rule of thumb to never disclose sensitive or specific personal information via text message or email on your mobile device – this can include a driver’s license number, social security number, and account numbers. Lastly, stay on top of the latest software updates from device manufacturers, as these often include security patches and enforcements.

3.     Download Secure Applications. Before installing a new app, it’s always good practice to check the ratings and comments from other users. In some cases, apps may ask to store credit card or sensitive account information, so be sure to confirm that these apps do not have reputations of fraud or hacker activity. And just like a computer, mobile phones and tablets are vulnerable to viruses that may hack messages and/or personal information, so remember to only download mobile applications from authorized application vendors like the Apple App store or Google Play for the Android market.

What if I Lose My Device? Report the loss immediately to your service provider or carrier. The four major U.S. carriers, can help keep numbers and accounts secure until the device can be replaced.Also, go online and change passwords for important financial and personal accounts as soon as possible. The best threat against fraud is prevention, so it is important to be proactive about changing passwords of accounts that have app counterparts on stolen devices.