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Stop old data from exposing you to ID theft


It’s the time of year when many of us clean out closets, basements, and attics. Maybe you’ve found some old electronics that are just gathering dust. Whether you’re selling, donating, or recycling them, before you get rid of your older tech, there are a few simple but important steps you need to take. Just deleting files and logging out is not enough, according to Consumer Reports.

Anything that might be stored locally on a device, like photos, videos, or any personal documents, may still be on there if the only thing you’ve done is log out of different accounts.

First, back things up using an external drive or cloud-based service. Then search online for specific factory reset directions for your device. It can be done on laptops, tablets, smartphones, wearable tech, and more.

Even after a factory reset, a very determined hacker could still access your old files. Although that’s very unlikely, you have other options that are more permanent, though it could decrease the value of your tech.

Say you’re selling a laptop on eBay or something like that. You could just physically remove the hard drive so that when you sell it (or give it to someone else), your data is no longer there because the hard drive is no longer there.

More extreme measures include destroying the hard drive or even destroying, then recycling, the device itself.

Consumer Reports says other devices that also need a factory reset include TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming devices like Roku. These all have your data, so you want to make sure to get rid of it before passing it on to the next person.

It's also important to remove any external storage in your devices, like microSD cards. And for smartphones and tablets with cellular, you’ll also want to find and remove the SIM card. If you don’t have the tool to remove it that came with your device, you can use a paper clip instead.

Our data is held in so many places by many different companies that have been subjected to breaches, so there's no point in letting your old tech add to the burden of new identity theft problems. 

Files from Consumer Reports Top Stories


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