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Tips for wiping smartphones clean before selling

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Those planning to upgrade their cell phone and sell an old device to earn a little extra cash after the holidays may want to consider wiping the old device of all personal information. With data security risks at an all-time high, it’s important to ensure personal information, like financial information, contacts, photographs and passwords, don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Our smartphones contain some of the most important information in our lives, and we need to prevent strangers from gaining access to any of it. Therefore, before selling – or giving away – your device, be sure to wipe it clean. If you upgrade frequently to the latest cutting-edge devices, like the iPhone 7, or Samsung S7, you will want to take the necessary steps to take care of your old phone first.

Here are some steps to consider taking before selling or giving away a smartphone:

Back up the device. Save all contacts, photos, notes, files, and other information to a Cloud account, computer or external hard drive. After the information is backed up, delete them from your phone and empty the deleted items folder.

Remove the SIM card. Take out any external storage, such as a microSD card, which is rectangular shaped and smaller than a phone battery.

Log out of services like email and social media. Clear the data, including passwords, from these apps.

Disconnect the phone from the Cloud account. Otherwise, the phone’s new owner could easily access sensitive information that’s stored there.

Remove mobile payment options. These days, many people do their banking, pay their bills and take care of other financial obligations from their mobile devices. Disconnect all links, apps, and accounts that are associated with banking institutions and credit cards.

Restore the phone to factory settings and turn off all services. Whether you decide to upgrade or sell, restoring the device to its original factory settings will remove personal information.  You can do this by going to the settings feature on most smartphones.    

Disconnect service. Call the service provider and remove the device from the account.

Unregister the device. If the phone is registered with Apple by its serial number, remove it by logging into supportprofile.apple.com with the Apple ID information. Similarly, Androids will need to be unregistered. First, go to the Google Play store from a computer's Web browser. Then, go to the gear icon at the top-right-hand corner of the screen, and select the Settings option. Deselect the device from the Google account under the Visibility option. This will hide select devices from appearing in the Play store when attempting to download a new app.

One last tip, if you are buying a used phone, we also recommend wiping your new used phone clean before personalizing it with your information. It will ensure that the devices settings, data, and apps are only yours. You will start with a clean slate.

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