You like to keep up with the latest technology, so it makes sense to trade in your phone if it’s in good condition and you’re anxious to upgrade. But have you ever thought about just how much information about your life is documented on your phone?
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Data thieves would be eager to grab your contacts, address, browser history, texts, email info—anything they could get their hands on from what you leave behind on your trade-in. Even if the phone just goes to another consumer, do you really want your personal information available to the phone’s new owner?
Be cautious—follow these tips if you’re getting ready to trade in your smartphone.
Security Tips for Trading In Cell Phones
You’re trying to make sure no one but you has access to the personal data on your smartphone, but make sure that you’re not losing your contacts and pictures in the process! It’s all too easy to realize you’ve erased your data and don’t have it in an accessible place. Back up your phone’s contents before you start wiping your phone—preferably in more than one place.
2. Don’t Forget Your Sim or SD
Of course, you’ll need your sim card to transfer your phone number, but if you weren’t planning to carry it over, take the card out anyway. An easy way to start the data destruction process on your phone is to take out any sim cards or storage expansion cards, like a micro SD card. Keeping your SD card will make it easy to back up data and make it more difficult to get information off the phone. Additionally, any resets you do to wipe your phone might not fully destroy the data on your SD card.
3. Do a Factory Reset
The first step in clearing data from your phone is to do a factory reset. This essentially wipes the phone of personal data and restores the phone to state it would be in if it had just come out of the factory. New owners would need to set up their own accounts, information, etc. Apple devices can be reset following instructions on their website, while Android resets can be accessed under the normal “settings” menu.
4. Use a Program to Really Wipe it Clean
Especially for Android phones, it may be a good idea to use a third party app like Autowipe or Lookout to really wipe the phone clean and remove as much data as possible. It never hurts to take extra precautions when it comes to data security.
5. Not Worth Trading in? Get it Recycled
Let’s be honest. Smartphones aren’t designed to last, and your phone might not be worth trading in by the time you want to upgrade. If your phone isn’t in great condition and fairly new, you might want to consider wiping it and taking it into a retailer that offers e-waste recycling.
Whatever You Do—Don’t Toss It!
Even if your phone doesn’t have much trade-in or even donation value, make sure it doesn’t end up in the trash. Most e-waste eventually makes it to a landfill—which is a huge hazard to environmental and human health—not to mention the data security risks involved.
At ICT, we’re committed to responsible data security & destruction, e-waste recycling, and helping to educate our community about conscious disposal of old electronics.
We’d love to know what you’ve done with old phones in the past! Let us know in the comments below.
Susannah Bruck is a freelance blogger, editor, and ghostwriter. She has been putting her skills to use for clients since 2010, and enjoys working on formats ranging from blog posts to short stories and plays. You can find her at World Adventures