Experts say that millions of consumers are at a high risk of getting their personal information stolen because they aren’t aware of the precautionary steps to take before selling or trading their smartphones, according to CBS News.
“It is a treasure trail for identity theft,” said Saint Vincent College professor Anthony Serapiglia.
From earlier-released Samsung phones down to the latest iPhone, Serapiglia and his student conducted a cellular device test. They use software that could trace the previous owners’ personal information.
Of the 80 smartphones that they’ve purchased from Goodwill, 47 of those devices had useful information, according to CBS News.
Text messages and Snapchats that consumers think are deleted could also be traced, CBS News reports.
Even a damaged cellphone can be searched for illegal activity.
Serapiglia says if the memory card isn’t removed from the cellular device, this also gives thieves access to your personal information.
According to CBS News, consumers must conduct a factory reset on the device, remove the sim or SD card to keep their information safe and encrypt their data.
So when selling or trading in your smartphone, make sure your personal information can’t be detected before it lands in the wrong hands.
This report contains information from CBS News.