Transcript for How to protect your privacy when getting rid of old phones
Millions of Americans are enjoying new cell phones after the major holiday shopping weekend or they’re asking for one this Christmas, but what happens when you trade in or you sell your older model. Does your information truly get wiped off? That is the question that Becky Worley is here to answer. She took a closer look. Hey, Becky. Hey, whole life on your phone so when you sell it, it’s key to erase all that data. Here’s an example of what can go wrong. We know of a case where a teenage girl said she traded in her broken iPhone only to find someone thousands of miles away, accessed her info and wound up harassing her through social media and that’s just the start of it. When it’s time to upgrade and trade in or sell your phone, don’t we all experience this? I was going to sell this for a few bucks online but I don’t know how to make sure my information is deleted. This is kind of a wide array of iPhone 6s, 7s. Reporter: Enter on track, the largest data recovery company. We’re inside its top secret clean room where they restore and wipe data from phones. To see how much and what kind of data is on used phones in the marketplace, they purchased 25 phones on various websites. There’s a lot of significant data here. Reporter: Out of all these phones they find three with potentially damaging person ago information. Two of the phones purchased on Facebook marketplace. The other on Ebay. Engineer steer Hruska shows us. I have his hotmail account and can reset his password. Reporter: That’s not all. They find text messages, contacts, emails and pictures. Pay stubs, looks like adp’s paystub, bank of America. I could request a copy of my w-2 and get their social security number. Reporter: One is still logged into Facebook and has passwords saved in the notes app and some very personal photos. Yikes. We have all the photos from the camera roll that includes some risque photos I’m guessing a lot of people wouldn’t want. Reporter: When they purchased the phone it had a damaged scene but after plugging it in they had full access. It’s important for people to not sell broken phones if they know it hasn’t been wiped. They say many don’t realize it has keys to unlock your financial apps and all your other online accounts. One issue is your phone stores passwords. Yes. It is so they store passwords and store it in plain text. Reporter: Check this out, by going to settings then accounts and passwords, you can get to all of the saved passwords and they’re not disguised. This is one of our engineers’ fines. He has 108 passwords stored on his phone. Everything from access to the camera in his home to the insurance that he has. This is his whole life. PayPal, everything. Reporter: The passwords are protected by another layer of security. But in our engineer’s case that might not protect you. His pass code, he told you, but it’s — 0000. All zeros. Not very clever and would have been on the list of things to try. Reporter: Which underscores the importance of a strong pass code. There’s so much data saved on your phone. Facebook and Ebay remind customers to wipe their phones before selling them and apple says it only takes a few easy steps to do that. So here’s how. You go to settings, general, reset and erase all content. You can do that in the phone or if the screen is broken. Plug it in and see if you can do it in iTunes. So important. All very important, Becky. Thank you so much. Especially with all the new phones being sold for the holiday. All right, thank you. Get instructions on how to safely erase your phone on our
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