Prevent Identity Theft When You Toss Your Old Phone

One of the definitions of erase is “to remove all traces of.” Synonyms include “destroy,” “wipe out” and “obliterate.”

But when you erase data from your phone, you aren’t really erasing it. That’s a problem when you go to recycle an old smart phone or tablet… there could be enough data lingering to expose you to identity theft. Here’s what our friends at Consumer Reports explained this week:

 “Recently, the antivirus software maker Avast reported that it was able to recover ‘erased’ personal information from 20 Android phones it had purchased on eBay. The information included more than 40,000 stored photos, including some depicting women and men in various stages of undress, more than 750 e-mails and texts, more than 250 contact names and addresses, four previous owners’ identities, and even a completed loan application. The software manufacturer posted an eye-opening, although technical, document that shows how it recovered the data and how vulnerable digital devices are.”

“Simply deleting information from electronic devices doesn’t actually remove it. To make data truly unrecoverable, it must be overwritten, or the device that contains the information, for example a computer hard drive, must be destroyed.”

Read the full story, including links for more information on how to really erase your data.

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.