Deleting your digital footprint - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Delete your digital footprint before you upgrade

Thousands of people upgrade their phones every day trying to get the newest models, but when they ditch their old phones, they could be putting their identities in danger.

"It was time to upgrade. I've been walking around with a dumbphone forever and it's time to get a smartphone," said Renee Williams.

A study by Life Assistance Company showed 54 percent of secondhand phones have personal information left on them, which means often the idea of 'out with the old and in with the new' is the only thing on peoples' minds.

Shelby Williams is buying a new phone and said, "I wasn't even thinking about the old stuff. I was ready to get a new phone!"

Luis Martes, Jr. checks email, does his banking and even pays bills on his phone, so unloading it before he gets a new one is necessary.

Matt Clayton is a Verizon's retail store manager and explained how to unload an Android phone.

He said, "You're going to hit the menu button, system settings, then you're going to go to privacy and you'll notice it says factory data reset, click on that and it will give you a brief description then you can complete the process."

He said if you have an iPhone, hit settings, general, reset, erase all content and settings.

Clayton said if you don't unload your phone, sensitive information could get into the wrong hands.

He commented, "Whenever you've bought something from your phone, your credit card information, your social security, anything that you may have searched on your phone [is there] so you've got to be very careful. Any photos, any locations you've possibly visited."

He also said it doesn't hurt to lock the phone up, in case it gets lost.

Clayton explained, "You always want to make sure those things are secure, so make sure you put a security lock or pass code on your phone."

If you don't want to unload the phone yourself, someone can do it for you. 

Bailey Howard works at Radio Shack and she said unloading is a must when people turn in phones to upgrade.

She said, "When they bring their phone in to recycle it, we always make sure we wipe it for them so that all of their information is gone off the phone. Also with Android phones, we advise people to keep their memory card."

It's not just phones, people have to be careful video game systems and computers, because those devices have personal information on them as well.

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