According to a Gallup poll, 44% of U.S. smartphone users upgrade when their carrier allows it, which is typically every two years. With each new phone, most users are transferring all the data from the old phone to the new one, however, that does not mean that the old phone is rid of all sensitive data such as addresses, passwords, and account numbers that has been stored on it. Therefore, it is important to be knowledgeable on how to completely clear any data off old and unused cell phones before disposing or donating them.
First, try using the factory reset. The majority of devices will allow you to “wipe” and clear nearly all information saved onto the memory. This can also be referred to as a “hard reset”. For detailed instructions on how to go about factory resetting your phone, contact your service provider or go online of the device manufacturer for step-by-step instructions. Second, remove or erase the SIM or SD cards. If you are keeping your phone number, ask your mobile provider about switching your current card over to your new phone. Even when “wiping” your phone, often times your SIM or SD card will retain information.
Once these steps have been followed, always check your phone again to be sure all the information has been cleared. Notable areas to look at include your phone book, call log, voicemails, text messages, photos, emails, downloads, and search history on your browser. Most apps require access to sensitive information, so always delete them off your phone before disposing of it.
Consider recycling or donating your old phone once it is clear of all personal information. Many service providers will accept old phones to refurbish and resell. You can also check out more recycling options through The Environmental Protection Agency or come to a free Shred Day event put on by the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama where recycling of electronics by a local company is offered on-site. The BBB holds numerous Shred Day events throughout the year across all 13 counties in the North Alabama region. To find the next Shred Day near you, call the BBB at 256-533-1640. To donate your cellular device, call a local charitable organization.
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