Be smart about your old smartphone

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Don’t be stupid with an old, unwanted smartphone, because it could have a lot to tell an identity thief. I’m Doug Whiteman with your Personal Finance Minute.

An identity theft expert for the McAfee security company bought dozens of used laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones off Craigslist as an experiment. He found that many of the devices — especially the smartphones — still contained a lot of private information, the kind you wouldn’t want to get into the wrong hands. Today’s phones not only hold our contacts, calendars and emails, but also personal financial data, as more consumers are using mobile banking and payment apps.

Experts say when you’re ditching an old smartphone, remove the SIM card and any expansion memory cards, and also do what’s called a factory reset. You can find out how by doing a web search for your model phone and the words “factory reset.” The process usually takes just a few minutes and will restore the phone to its original condition, before you put your stamp on it.

For more on how to secure an old smartphone before you discard it, visit

I’m Doug Whiteman.