All iPhone and Android users are urged to change the setting NOW – it could cost you thousands

SMARTPHONE users are being urged to lock their devices after a spate of sneaky thefts.

Corresponding BBC Newsa serial scammer in London uses a smartphone vulnerability to steal people’s savings through their banking apps.

The thief breaks into lockers in gym locker rooms and steals people's smartphones and bank cards

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The thief breaks into lockers in gym locker rooms and steals people’s smartphones and bank cardsPhoto credit: Getty

Luckily, whether you’re using an iPhone or an Android phone, there’s an easy way to protect yourself.

How does the thief do it?

The crook, who is believed to work alone, has already conquered thousands of London gym-goers.

She breaks into women’s locker rooms across the city and steals people’s phones and bank cards.

Smartphones can be made inaccessible with passwords and face or fingerprint unlock, but the thief found a way around that.

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Once she has your phone and bank card, she downloads the appropriate banking app on her own phone and enters the card details.

Since the card is being used on a new device for the first time, the bank requires a one-time security code as a precaution.

This is sent to the stolen phone via SMS.

Since most smartphones are set to preview new messages, the code can be seen on the stolen device’s lock screen.

This gives the thief all the information they need to insert the code into their device and gain access to the account.

She can then transfer money, buy goods, or change access to the account.

The thief typically splashes thousands on merchandise at stores including Selfridges, Apple, Balenciaga and Harrods, according to the BBC.

How to protect yourself

You can protect yourself by disabling lock screen previews in your device settings.

It’s also a good idea to keep your smartphone and bank card separate from each other as much as possible.

On iPhone:

  • Go to settings
  • Scroll to Messages
  • Scroll to Notifications
  • Scroll to Preview where there are three options: Always / When unlocked / Never
  • Tap either When unlocked or Never. Your messages will no longer be visible when your phone is locked

On Android:

  • Go to settings
  • Tap on lock screen
  • Select Notifications
  • Tap Don’t show notifications. Your messages will no longer be visible when your phone is locked
Charlotte Morgan says a thief used a smartphone loophole to spend her £8,000 life savings - around the time she was training

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Charlotte Morgan says a thief used a smartphone loophole to spend her £8,000 life savings – around the time she was trainingPhoto credit: Twitter

Victim tells harrowing story

A woman has shared the terrifying moment a loophole in a smartphone let thieves spend £8,000 of their life savings – and how to stop it happening to you.

Charlotte Morgan of London says that in the short time she spent at the gym one night, a thief was able to spend every penny she had on her name.

She now understands that the crook knew exactly what they were doing when they stole her phone and bank card from her gym locker.

They removed her phone’s SIM card, put it in another phone and used it – in a loophole in a banking app – to access her savings account.

Charlotte claims her bank, Santander, then accused her of negligence and originally told her she would not be refunded the £8,000 she lost.

The horror began to unfold around 9.30pm on a normal Wednesday, after Charlotte had finished her workout.

She wrote for them MailOnline: “When I went to my locker at the Virgin Active gym in Chiswick Park, London, I found my combination lock was missing… and the locker was empty.”

Charlotte’s bag – which contained her phone and bank card along with her house keys and more – was gone.

She quickly made her way to the front counter of the gym and found another thief victim whose face she recognized.

Charlotte said: “I remembered her because the electronic entrance gate was out of order and instead of showing our membership cards, we signed a piece of paper when we entered.

“No one on the staff checked our names against the system, so it’s very likely our thief slipped up that way as well.”

Desperately, Charlotte called Santander and asked them to stop all transactions.

But she said: “The voice on the other end of the line then listed a number of important transactions, all made during my training session.

“Everyone hit me like a bullet.”

The thief spent nearly £3,000 at one Apple store – in three £850 purchases – then £1,000 at another Apple store, then £700 at a Selfridges.

Charlotte said a Santander employee told her she would not receive a refund.

Santander was asked for comment.

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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9377414/phone-change-setting-cost-you-thousands/ All iPhone and Android users are urged to change the setting NOW – it could cost you thousands

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