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Protect your Discarded Mobile Phones from Scammers

by Kim Williams  -   November 21, 2013
Image Credit: 34153153 Copyright holbox, 2013 Used under license from Shutterstock.com


Mobile phones today function like computers in many ways, including their ability to store vast amounts of data and provide access to the Internet. People use their phones for a combination of private, financial and business purposes. Their phones may contain passwords to bank accounts, social media applications and email; photos; credit card numbers; private text messages; and other information they would like to keep secure.

Unfortunately, criminals have realized that many discarded mobile phones still contain the identifying information and passwords they need to engage in a variety of scams, including identity theft and profiting from your financial information.

Since mobile technology changes rapidly and many like to upgrade their phones to keep up with the advancements, there is no shortage of second-hand phones. These phones are sold, donated, recycled and put into trash cans every day. If scammers obtain these phones and they still contain data, the criminals know how to access it. Before donating, selling or disposing of your mobile phone, take the following steps in order to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands:

  1. Ensure all of your data is backed up and transferred to your new phone or to another secure electronic device.
  2. Delete all files you can access from your phone’s memory.
  3. Reset your phone to its initial factory settings. Consult your device’s manual or contact your service provider for instructions unique to your device.
  4. Remove your SD or SIM card from the phone and either destroy it or keep it in a secure place. This memory card stores phone book data, photos, text messages and other personal identifying information.
  5. Refer to your phone’s manual and/or contact the manufacturer or wireless service provider to make sure there are no additional steps you need to take.

If after taking the steps above, you are still not certain you scrubbed it completely, you may want to destroy it or store it in a safe place in your home. An older phone may come in handy if your new phone needs repairs and you need a back-up. 

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Front Page Image: 102001087 Copyright asharkyu, 2013 Used under license from Shutterstock.com 

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