Blog How to Erase the Data on Your Phone Before Selling It
Robert Siciliano October 23, 2013

How to Erase the Data on Your Phone Before Selling It

Looking to upgrade to a better and newer smart phone? It has become standard practice to upgrade to a newer mobile device every one to three years.

But before you sell, donate or discard the old one, make sure you completely wipe out all your personal data and information. 

Your old mobile phone contains all kinds of personal data such as usernames, passwords, your contacts’ phone numbers and addresses, family photos, etc. 

If your personal information happens to fall into the wrong hands, you could become the next victim of identity theft!

Recently, I conducted a test in which I purchased a bunch of used devices off of Craigslist and eBay to see if I could still find personal data on them. I found a startling amount of personal data, including photos, phone numbers, addresses, emails, text messages and even passwords!

While most of us would think we are safe if we do a factory reset on our mobile device, this is not always the case. On some Android phones, even though some of the phones’ owners had done a factory reset, I was still able to find data on them.

To ensure that your device is cleared of your personal data, follow these tips below:

  • Wipe your phone: For mobile phones, you want to do a factory reset. The software to do this is built into the phone.
    • Android factory reset: Menu > Settings > Privacy > Factory Data Reset.
    • iPhone factory reset: Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings.
    • Blackberry factory reset: Options > Security Options > General Settings > Menu > Wipe Handheld.
    • Windows 7 phone factory reset: Settings > About > Reset Phone.
  • On any other operating systems or Symbian-based phones, you will need to do a search on your phone online, such as, “Phone Name, Model Number, Carrier, Factory Reset.”
  • Remember to remove or wipe any media, like SD cards or SIM cards. These are so cheap, it’s better to cut them in half with a scissors or reuse them.
  • Still unsure if you’ve gotten all your data off? Get a drill and poke lots of holes in the device and its hard drive, or hit it with a sledgehammer. This may be lots of fun, but it also may make it less saleable. :-)

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Robert Siciliano on

Robert Siciliano
About Robert Siciliano

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft expert consultant to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. FInd Robert Siciliano on Google+

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