Privacy and security / November 24, 2020

Safely selling or trading in your mobile device

Amanda Lee

Amanda Lee

Senior Project Manager, TELUS Wise

Man transferring data between his old and new smart phones

With Black Friday around the corner and the holiday season upon us, many of us are thinking about upgrading our own phones or even gifting a new phone to a loved one. Perhaps you're one of the lucky ones and will be getting a new or upgraded smartphone or tablet and now you’re asking yourself what to do with your old one. The easy option is to toss it in a drawer, while other more creative options might include finding an alternate use for it. For example, some might choose to turn their old smartphone into a universal remote, security camera, or even a baby monitor, running on a Wi-Fi connection.

For many, the most obvious answer is to sell the old device. If you decide to go this route, before you sell, give away or even trade in your old device, you need to take steps to safeguard against identity theft or fraud. Over time our devices end up storing a tremendous volume of personal and sensitive information, so before you declare “out with the old and in with the new”, make sure you’re upgrading with your privacy in mind and follow these steps:

  1. Back it up: avoid the risk of losing data like your photos and contacts by backing up your device before you upgrade. You can learn more by visiting Apple’s or Google’s websites. Manually deleting contacts, calendars, reminders, documents or photos from your device is generally not recommended as this will also delete the information from your cloud services.
  2. Fully disconnect: if your phone is paired to another device, like a watch or a vehicle, make sure it’s un-paired. Ensure that all usernames and passwords for accounts, including Wi-Fi, are no longer saved on the phone and that you remove your debit/credit cards from any mobile payment apps (i.e ApplePay). If you use 2-step verification or multi-factor authentication to log in to accounts, make sure you remove your phone from the list of trusted devices. If you're upgrading from an Apple to a non-Apple phone, be sure to deregister iMessage as well.
  3. Remove SIM/SD cards: don't forget to pop out the SIM, which you'll likely need for your new device in order to keep your existing number and service. If the SIM doesn’t fit, upgrade your SIM to the correct size through your carrier and complete a SIM swap to activate service. Always make sure you destroy the old SIM. If your device has an SD memory card slot (i.e. Android) you’ll need to remove it as well.
  4. Restore and reset: the final and perhaps most important step in protecting your data and digital security is to ensure the device is wiped of any personal information. You can do this by restoring and resetting your device to its factory settings. Step-by-step instructions can be found on your device manufacturer’s website.

If you decide to sell your old device, always err on the side of caution and make arrangements to meet the buyer in a public place. Check in with your local police station for designated safe exchange zones for online purchases such as their lobby or parking lot, and never exchange items until payment is received.

For more tips to help protect your privacy and personal information in our digital world, visit telus.com/wise, and take our privacy quiz, How privacy aware are you?

Tags:
Identity theft
Smartphones
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