Sell Your Smartphone, Not Your Identity and Memories
Article by George Norman
On 09 Jul 2014
If you get a new smartphone and plan on selling your old one, make sure you sell just your phone and not your identity and memories as well.

Security company AVAST found that people who sell their smartphones fail to wipe them properly. Using simple and easily available data recovery tools, AVAST brought back lots of data about the sellers, from a filled-out loan form to lots of nude selfies.


When the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone is released, you get all hyped up and you rush to purchase it. What do you do with your old smartphone? Why you can sell it, of course. Thanks to Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and other such sites, it is quite easy to sell your old smartphone.

Smartphones store lots of personal info: emails, photos, Google searches, texts, and so on. So before you go sell your smartphone, make sure to wipe it. And make sure to do a proper job because if you don’t, you will be selling your identity and memories alongside your old smartphone.

Security company AVAST found that smartphone owners fail to properly wipe their devices, thus exposing themselves to identity theft and other dangers. The company purchased 20 Android smartphones from eBay and by using simple, easily available data recovery software, it brought back lots of data about the sellers – data that could cause a lot of damage in the wrong hands.

Here’s what AVAST managed to recover:
  • 40,000+ photos
  • 1,500+ family photos of children
  • 750+ photos of women in various stages of undress
  • 250+ selfies of men showing off their manhood
  • 1,000+ Google searches
  • 750+ emails and text messages
  • 250+ contact names and email addresses
  • 4 previous owners’ identities
  • 1 complete loan app.

“Why do I care if someone can recover my old photos, Google searches, and so on?” some of you might be thinking right about now. Here’s the answer AVAST provided:

“As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Now add private Facebook messages that include geo-location, Google searches for open job positions in a specific field, media files, and phone contacts. Put all of these pieces together to complete the puzzle and you have a clear picture of who the former smartphone owner was. Stalkers, enemies, and thieves can abuse personal data to stalk, blackmail and steal people’s identities. They can use this information to watch people’s every move, exploit their strange fetishes, open credit cards in their name, or even continue what they started by further selling their personal information online.”

AVAST invites you to use its own software to securely wipe your Android device before selling it.avast! Anti-Theft, available for free on the Play Store, features a “thorough wipe” function that will permanently delete all the personal data stored on your mobile.

Here’s an infographic that summaries all that’s been said above.

Tags: AVAST, security, Android, smartphone
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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