"Hidden Crimes" Part Two: Cell Phone Dangers


By Michelle Costa

TWIN FALLS, ID (KMVT TV) - It's a fast–paced and wireless world meaning there aren't many of us who don't have a cell phone.

And so many of us use our phones to take pictures and then post them online, something experts said is a red flag.

We're continuing our two part series called: “Hidden Crimes.”

Michelle Costa takes a look at geotagging.

In a matter of seconds, a photo can be tracked to where it was taken from through the internet and a GPS system in a cell phone.

It's called geotagging and it's something KRRS Systems President, Owen Robbins, is anticipating will be used more often in the future.

"Special tags are laid down in the image. You click on the image. It combs through the meta tags and gives you the longitude and latitude. You click a button and there you are. You can download software that will allow you to comb that data out of the photo and then map it with Google map or Google earth,” said Owen Robbins, KRRS Systems.

So if I take a picture of where I work and I post it online, if my cell phone is geotagging enabled, my location is embedded in the image using the GPS system and now I’m publicizing exactly where I am to everyone without even knowing it.

"No cases where we have had people victimized, but it will come down the road shortly. The fact that people can take a picture and use different programs to identify where and when that picture was taken. It used to be limited to law enforcement and now the general public can use them. Identity theft is a huge problem and we do have that problem here in Twin Falls. Go back to your Facebook and social networking sites and see what's on there,” said Detective Todd Rudner, Twin Falls Police Department.

So what should you even put up online?

"Things that are appropriate for your grandmother should be online, anything else, you're taking a risk,” said Robbins.

While it may take only a second to snap a photo, is it worth the chance of it falling into the wrong person's hands?

So how do you protect yourself?

Most smart phones are geotagged enabled and you need to go into your settings and disable it.

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