When was the last time you got concerned over people gaining access to your personal info through an app you downloaded for your iPhone or BlackBerry smartphone? If the answer to that question is never, we encourage you to read on.

In an era where mobile phones, smartphones in particular, are the new playground for online advertisers, cleverly disguised websites and applications are tracking user behavior. This isn’t exactly a new scheme as this has been prevalent on the internet for quite some time now, but attention and concern has begun to shift to mobile devices as well.

apple iphone 3g editors choiceUser review sites such as Yelp or Urbanspoon can actually target users in a particular location if the device being used comes with GPS. Local ads can then be sent to that user to maximize its potential. That’s an extreme example of how modern technology is working for advertisers, but the more common practice is to just monitor how users spend their time on the mobile web. Downloading the latest ringtone and visiting music video sites will give them the impression that a particular user belongs to a pop-culture genre, which will then help them send an appropriate ad targeted towards that specific segment of the market.

While this may seem harmless at first glance, the risk of more personal information getting into the wrong hands is there. Signing up for an online service usually requires you to enter more personal information which you wouldn’t normally hand-out to strangers. This information isn’t actually kept confidential most of the time as the data gathered here is used to categorize their clients. It is client information such as these that advertisers thrive on.

So what’s one to do to safeguard one’s personal info? Actually, you can’t do anything unless you plan to not to download any apps or use the internet. There are no laws that exactly prohibit this practice and once you agree to a particular site’s user agreement, then you literally waive your right to the information you entered when signing up. Just treat this as a heads up and be wary of the sites that you visit and the apps that you download.