Now that you have that shiny new phone (or maybe a new computer or tablet? Aren’t you lucky!), you can’t wait to get rid of that old piece of junk. Not so fast! That device, which for some people might only be a year old, has a ton of personal information on it that you don’t want to end up in the wrong hands.
Mobile devices and computers can store:
- Where you work
- Where you live
- Where you visited
- Contact information for you, your family, your friends, and your co-workers
- Who you’ve called, and unless you’ve cleared it, all the missed calls and voicemails too
- Chat and texting sessions
- Game data (and all those chat sessions in games)
- Social media posts
- Personal photos, videos, and audio recordings
- Stored passwords
- Account information
- Health data (especially if you have a smartwatch or fitness device that syncs with your phone or an online portal on your computer)
What to do? You need to erase all that sensitive info. Deleting it doesn’t quite do it either. If you’ve got a computer, wiping the hard drive and reformatting it with a multi-pass reformatting program works. For mobile devices deleting the data and then doing a factory reset with the option to erase all the content and settings works best.
Don’t forget about that SIM card either in your old phone. Make sure you remove it and if you are keeping your phone number, ask if the SIM card can just be transferred. If you aren’t, then physically destroy the card yourself.
Lastly, even if you aren’t handing that old phone to someone else, consider recycling it before you just throw it away. Most tech retailers have recycling available.