Clear Your Old Smart Phones Before Recycling Or Reselling

The issue of what to do with your old cell phones has been around as long as the phones themselves have. How do you get rid of them and what should you do first? The answer of how to get rid of them is easy, you can either resell or recycle them, and there are plenty of places to do both. But before you do that there is a very important thing you should do first! Clear off your data.


If you don’t clear your data before you get rid of an old device (smart phone, tablet, computer) you might find yourself in a similar situation as 15-year-old Natalie Hall of Bowmanville, Ontario. Young Natalie’s cell phone broke, and she was unable to use it, so she took it to a mall kiosk to trade it in and upgrade to a new phone. She got $11 for her old phone; and a whole lot of trouble.


Instead of being destroyed and recycled the phone was refurbished and resold with all the data intact which is how a man in Dubai managed to reach out to her with access to her phone’s camera roll and access to all her social media accounts. Even being able to add himself as a friend to all of her accounts. It is a frightening example of why you should make sure your device is clear before you let it get out of your control.


Image text: Message to Natalie Hall via Facebook Messenger. Hii natalie i buy som stock from Uk i am in dubai there i one i phone 5s your All data is in the phone your to sweet and also your sweet dogii pic and your friend your tooooooo to sweet plz join friend ship with me (image capture of camera roll)

Image by Natalie Hall


To clear your phone or other device it is recommended that you use a factory reset and a few other steps to ensure that your data is no longer on your phone. An example of such instructions can be found at though even following these instructions may not be enough. There is software available that can recover data even after a factory reset; but don’t give up because there is something you can do to help prevent that.


After you complete your first factory reset you should fill your phone with useless files. Download large video or audio files to your device until your hard drive is full. Then perform another reset. That should overwrite most of the data. And if you are still concerned about your device then you should bring it somewhere that guarantees the use of data eraser software. This is also the best option if you cannot for any reason use your phone anymore.


Clearing old PC’s is slightly more complicated but USA Today had a good article about it back in 2013 which you can find here.


And when in doubt about how to handle your old phones you can do what many people do; toss them in a drawer and start a collection.


In all seriousness though; please protect your data. No one wants to have to go through what Natalie did.

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