BBB Alert: Selling your smartphone? Be careful, you may be selling your info with it

July 18, 2014

Did you get a new smartphone recently? Are you wondering what you should do with your old one? One option is to sell your old phone. While that seems like a good way to make some quick cash, you may also be selling your memories, emails, texts and other data. BBB serving Upstate New York urges consumers to use caution when selling used smartphones, either in person or online.

While most phones have a way to restore it to its factory settings, according to a new study by Internet security company Avast, a factory restoration may not be enough to wipe the phone completely clean of photos, texts and other data. For the study, Avast says it purchased 20 used Android smartphones from various consumers online. All the previous owners stated that they had done a factory reset or a “delete all” on the devices. Avast reported that it was able to recover a substantial amount of data from the phones, including four full identities of previous owners and completed loan application.

Other data Avast recovered included more than:

  • 40,000 photos
  • 1,000 Google searches
  • 750 emails and texts
  • 250 contact names and phone numbers

Avast also warns consumers that the data recovery software it used is widely available and easy to operate.

If you are preparing to sell or donate your phone, BBB encourages you to check the following:

  • Make sure that your device has been completely reset
  • Remove all apps
  • Check through the contacts, texts, photos and emails to make sure they are deleted
  • Remove any SIM cards or memory devices

If you are still in doubt, keep your old phone. You can always use it as a “back up.”

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