NEW YORK (5/29/08)--What would happen if a credit union member lost a smartphone that was filled with personal and financial information? That’s a question that Miriam Neal, vice president of information systems for South Western FCU, La Habra, Calif., is afraid to answer. Neal was interviewed for a May 28 article in a Wall Street Journal that addressed the risks smartphones can pose to companies or financial institutions. Smartphones allow users to check their e-mails and surf the Internet, among other tasks. Many financial institutions, including credit unions, offer their members mobile banking options--which means that some smartphone users are performing financial transactions on their phones. Some risks include malware, which infects phones through text messages and e-mail. Malware can be used by hackers to eavesdrop, and to look at call histories or text messages. There are about 300 to 500 versions of malicious software circulating, the Journal said. Third-party applications such as downloading games and ringtones also can put a smartphone at risk, the newspaper said. To prevent problems, some companies are limiting the access smartphones have to internal networks to protect important data. Neal told the Journal that her credit union is committed to protecting member data. “We need to protect the privacy of our members,” she said.