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Be Smart When Disposing of Your Smartphone

Be Smart When Disposing Your Smartphone

This handheld device stores more information than you might realize.

Smartphone features are constantly changing and people are updating their devices more frequently. Unfortunately, many smartphone users are careless when it comes to keeping their personal information secure.

Stored data

Smartphones store more sensitive data than you think. Typical information can include:

  • Your address, employer and places you visit
  • Contact information for everyone in your address book
  • Call history
  • Text and voice messages
  • Location history based on GPS coordinates or cell tower data
  • Web browsing history
  • Personal photos, videos, audio recordings and email
  • Stored passwords and access to personal accounts
  • Access to information stored in the cloud

When you get rid of your old phone, make sure to erase everything that’s been stored on it. If you don’t, you may be giving the new owner access to your personal information.

Deleting files isn’t enough. Instead, you should securely erase all your data by using your “factory reset” function. This returns your smartphone to the condition it was in when you bought it. Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website for complete instructions.

Data storage cards

In addition to data stored on your smartphone, you need to consider your SIM card, which makes cell or data connections. Even after a factory reset, the SIM card retains information about your account. If you keep your phone number, ask about transferring data to your new SIM card. If this can't be done, destroy the card.

Some phones also use a separate SD card for storing additional pictures, apps and other sensitive information. Remember to remove any external storage cards prior to disposing of the device. If you can’t reuse your SD card, destroy it.

Make sure all personal information is deleted from your phone’s internal storage. To check, connect the phone to a computer and view the storage through a standard browser. If you have any doubt that the data on your phone has been completely removed, contact a phone recycling center. Many offer advice on how to ensure everything is deleted. They can even offer tailored guides for specific makes and models of mobile phones.

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