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How to Guide on Disposing Your Mobile Device

discarding mobile devices

A new phone seems to come on the market on a regular basis. The competition in the mobile device market is fierce and as soon as a new device is launched, a newer updated version is fast on its heels. Business Consumer Alliance provides this guide with steps on how to dispose of your mobile device to assist you if you are getting rid of your device to upgrade to a newer model, or returning one that you’re unsatisfied with or that doesn’t work.

Removing Personal Information

It’s safe to say our mobile devices probably hold some sensitive information such as contacts, addresses, phone numbers, photos, passwords, account information, email, voice mail, and text message logs.  Before you get rid of the device, make sure this information is removed so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Factory Reset

Most devices allow you to clear nearly all the information in its memory from your device. This may be referred to as a “hard reset,” or “factory reset.” Before deleting the information, check to see if you are able to transfer the information to your new device or have it backed up so that you can retrieve it later. After your information has been transferred or backed up, consult the device manual or the manufacturer’s website for steps to reset your device to its original settings.

Remove or Erase SIM and SD cards

Besides storing information in the device’s internal memory, many devices store information on a SIM card or an external SD card. Even when you reset or clear your device, your SIM or SD cards may retain information about you, such as photos for example. Remove them from your device or delete the data stored on them. You may want to check with your mobile provider to see if your SIM card can be transferred to your new device.

Double Check

It never hurts to check twice to make sure your information is gone. Make sure to check your:

  • contacts
  • call log (both incoming and outgoing calls)
  • text messages (sent, received, saved or locked)
  • voice mails
  • applications
  • downloads
  • folders
  • browser and search history
  • photos
  • data associated with applications that you have downloaded

Discarding Your Device

There are several options when deciding what to do with your old mobile device. You may choose to give it away or sell it. Some choose to advertise their devices for sale on popular sites such as eBay and CraigsList. Another option is to sell your device to a buyback program, such as Gazelle. You may also choose to recycle the phone, trade it in for credit towards a new device, or even donate it to a charity. Whatever you choose to do with the device, make sure to follow the steps above so that your personal information is protected.

We recommend that you read our other article, “Being Smart With Your Smartphone,” for tips on effective ways of using your smartphone and keeping your sensitive data secure.  For related topics, such as mobile apps and other consumer resources, check out our BCA resource guides for information on a variety of subjects.

About Business Consumer Alliance:

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1936. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.