If you were gifted or bought the latest and greatest gadget this holiday season, tech experts say deleting your digital footprint is crucial before ditching the old device.
Patty Hulse recently upgraded to the latest iPhone, but not before completing a factory reset.
“Because you don’t want any of your personal data on the phone and that phone’s going to be refurbished and used," said Hulse.
All it takes is a few critical clicks to keep your data out of the hands of hackers.
“They could get virtually anything they want off of it," said Brett Kappes, owner of Performance Computer Group on S. Dale Mabry in Tampa.
Kappes showed ABC Action News the easy steps consumers need to take to protect themselves from fraud.
Android users - tap "backup and reset" under settings, then "factory data reset" to restore default settings.
“It will delete all the programs, all your personal information off the internal memory on the phone," said Kappes.
Similar steps can be taken when selling or donating an iPhone.
Under general settings - click "reset," then tap "reset all settings."
Computers and laptops are trickier to clean, according to Kappes.
“We have at least one person a week that walks in the store that says, ‘I’ve got a computer, I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to throw it away because it has sensitive data on it,'" said Kappes.
When it comes to protecting user data, the only piece of the computer that needs to be removed or destroyed is the hard drive.
Some models are easy enough to do it at home. If not, Performance Computer Group will do it for free. Kappes recommends consumers either keep the hard drive in a safe place or damage the hard drive's platter.
Key steps, tech experts say, to prevent a potential cyber crime this holiday season.
“If you hit this with a hammer hard enough it will destroy and break the platter, from there it can’t be recovered," said Kappes.