Recycling of old electronic devices and computers keeps dangerous chemicals out landfills. Let’s make sure that in addition to protecting the environment, you are also protecting your identity by making sure that your personal data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The IoT (Internet-of-Things) is now taking this issue far beyond computers and cell phone to include items such virtual assistants, medical devices, etc. By practicing good protection skills like password security and deleting old caches of stored information, you’re practicing good identity hygiene that will help you as well as helping the planet.
Following are some hints from the Identity Theft Resource Center about discarding old phones.
- Keep your friends secure – Before you make the change to your new device, you’ll want to save any text messages that you want to keep and backup your contacts list. Then, once those are saved and ported over to your new phone via the SIM card or through a side-load to your computer, you’ll need to delete that content on the old phone. Anyone who gets your phone after you’re done with it would otherwise be able to see those numbers, messages, any sent photos, and more.
- Apps and folders – The same is largely true for apps and stored folders on your phone, especially if you used social media or a file storage service like Dropbox. If those apps are still there and logged in, the next person to come along could potentially access those accounts and even make changes to them.
- What’s hiding in there? – Your phone has internal storage, just like a computer, and the best way to make sure you’ve found everything is to connect the phone to your computer via its cable and open it on your screen. It’s as simple as treating your phone like a disc or a flash drive; just click on it to open and check the folders that appear. If you find any pictures, documents, or stored information, you can move it out of the phone and straight to your computer simply by dragging and dropping it. Just make sure you aren’t making a copy of the content instead of actually moving it, otherwise you’re leaving the original behind.
Once you’re sure you have all the information you need, it’s important to do a factory reset to restore the phone to its original “empty” status. When you’re done, it should look and act like it did the day you took it out of the box. That way, the next person to use or find the device will be the new user instead of picking up where you left off with your information.