Monday, August 29, 2011

What to Do with That Old Phone

Notes by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC.
Also covered in WBTV's segment, Protecting Your Cyberturf

Thinking about getting a new phone? It’s always fun get a new phone with new features. But what do you do with your old phone? Many people like to recycle or resell their old phones but are you doing everything to protect your personal information when you hand that phone off to someone else?

This could be a real problem. It’s so easy to sell stuff you don’t need anymore on places like craigslist, ebay or You clear out the clutter and earn back a few bucks. But when you sell your old cell phones, you need to be extra careful. A recent study found that roughly 54 percent of used phones sold online still housed sensitive data on them. WBTV’s Cyber Expert, Theresa Payton, tells you what you need to watch out for and how to protect yourself.

A recent experiment involved purchasing used phones to see what could be recovered on them. The researcher found credit and debit card details, PINs, passwords, phone numbers, logins to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and even email were just a few clicks away with data restore tools.

Interestingly enough, the experiment asked people that were reselling their phones if they cleaned their phone before selling it and 81% of people said they wiped their phone. The data was still recoverable because they only deleted the data and did not take the extra steps to remove the data so it could not be recovered. The best way to avoid this from happening is to contact your carrier for specific instructions on how to permanently – and “permanent” is key – wipe the data. Just because you delete it does not mean someone cannot recover it.


1. Log out of all applications and then delete.

2. Deleting is not enough – there are tools as low as $99 that can “un-delete” those messages

3. Use the wipe function provided to you by your manufacturer and reset the phone to factory settings

4. If possible, remove the SIM chip

5. If you are unsure whether or not you have successfully wiped the cell phone clean, contact your service provider for assistance


To read more about the study, see the findings at:

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