Up to half of used cell and smart phones that are sold include sensitive photos, data and other info

BRANDON, Fla. - When you got rid of your old cell phone, what did you leave on it?  Industry experts estimate about half of us don't bother to reset or clean out our phones, leaving photos, files, and even identifying information to strangers. 

Jim Acierno estimates he's gotten rid of upwards of 20 phones with out erasing his device.  We found he's one of many.

World Wide Cells in Brandon estimates that 40 to 50 percent of the hundreds of phones they buy each week arrive loaded with personal information and zero privacy settings.

World Wide Cells cleans incoming phones daily.  But on this day we asked owner Casey Parris to go through a box of new arrivals before they hit the reset desk.

It would have taken the former user just seconds to wipe the phone clean.  Instead, he sold an iPhone full of data that could be used against him, including access to his bank account.

Another phone reveals pictures of guns, rolls of cash and even what looks like a self portrait of the owner smoking marijuana.  iPads and iPods can be just as vulnerable.

A kid's dance party was found on another phone.  Sure, it's innocent enough, but the same owner left more than 400 pictures and all of her emails behind.

We spoke with Erick Bertram.  She and other customers say they know better.

Apple makes it easy to reset or clear any of their devices.  It takes just four clicks to clear everything.  Tap on settings, then hit general, then reset, then reset all content and settings.

No one can gain access to the files on your old iPhone if you set up a password.  But if you own a Droid or anything not made by Apple, there's an extra step to take:  Remove the memory card.

Memory cards hold every photo, email and download.  Casey Parris says he's purchased hundreds of phones where the owner failed to remove that tiny card. The owners of some of these memory cards likely had no idea they were leaving such sensitive material as nude photos and sexually explicit videos in the hands of a stranger.

If you make the mistake of selling your device loaded, you can erase all the material on it remotely.  There's an app for that.  For Apple devices, install "Find My iPhone."  Droid users should download "Where is my Droid?" app.  In just a few clicks you can reset or erase your device remotely.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments