Change this iPhone setting right now to protect your privacy

Have you ever used your iPhone as a personal hotspot in public venues? Don't overlook this simple tweak.

You're conscientious about protecting your privacy and have followed all suggestions to help do so. You've gone through all recommended settings on your iPhone and set them to keep your information secure. Even so, chances are there is one setting you've missed that can help bad guys spot you in real life.

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Perhaps you use your iPhone as a personal hotspot from time to time, especially in public venues. You may use it to get your laptop online at the airport, or while sitting in the sidewalk cafe.

If you do that, with your iPhone personal hotspot turned on go to settings on any other device and have a look at available Wi-Fi networks. If you see something like "Whitney's iPhone" you're helping potential creeps find you.

As you just did, all the bad guys have to do is scan for available Wi-Fi networks on any device and they'll see your device name. Once they know that there's an iPhone nearby, they just have to look around and see who has one.

Even if you put your iPhone out of sight once your laptop or tablet is using the hotspot, a clever person can still find you. If they see your iPhone in the list of available networks but can't see who owns it, all they have to do is approach you while using your laptop and ask what the Wi-Fi network password is. If you say you are using your own hotspot, they've got you.

In just a few seconds they know your name and that you have an expensive gadget worth stealing.

Even worse, perhaps they're not looking for something to steal. We see accounts of cyber stalkers all the time, and they use many different methods to find their obsessions. The odds are low that some jerk will use this technique to find out who you are, but since you're concerned about your safety why take a chance? Change your iPhone name right now and rest easy.

Go to settings on the iPhone and then General | About. The first setting is the iPhone name so tap it and change it to something you'll recognize but that doesn't give away any personal information. Don't put "iPhone" or "iPad" in the name, there's no reason to give any hints to anyone looking. Something like "FBI Surveillance" has a nice ring.

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