If you’re thinking about upgrading to a new phone, make sure you remove your personal information before you trade it in. Why? Because your phone could have a lot of sensitive, personal information on it – like your passwords, account numbers, emails, text messages, photos, and videos. If that information ends up in the wrong hands, someone could use it to wreak havoc. They could open accounts in your name, spend your money, hack into your email, or take over your social media accounts.
Here’s how to remove your personal information before you trade in your phone.
[Just got a new phone? Find out how to protect it and your data. These tips work for not-so-new phones, too!]
Step 1. Back It Up
If you're going to trade in your phone, the first thing you should do is back up your data.
Step 2. Remove SIM and SD Cards
If your phone has a SIM card, it may store your personal information. Remove the SIM card. If you'll keep the same phone number, you may be able to transfer your SIM card to your new phone. But if you don't re-use the SIM card, destroy it. If your phone has an SD memory card for storage, remove it.
Step 3. Erase Your Personal Information
Remove information from your old phone by restoring or resetting it. After you restore, or reset your phone, confirm that you erased things like your contacts, text messages, photos, videos, and browsing history.
Step 4. Disconnect Your Phone From Accounts and Devices
Before you turn in the phone, double check that it’s no longer connected to your online accounts or other devices.
- If your phone was paired to another device, like a watch or a vehicle, make sure it’s un-paired.
- Make sure that passwords for your accounts or Wi-Fi are no longer saved on the phone.
- If you use 2-step verification or multi-factor authentication to log in to any accounts, remove your phone from the list of trusted devices.
- If you’re not keeping your phone number, change the number on file with any accounts or services that may be using it to identify you.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
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