Thinking of donating or selling the old cellphones stashed in your desk? Before sending them off, be sure to permanently clear the phone’s sensitive data — which could go beyond phone numbers to include passwords, account numbers and medical information.
Commanding a cellphone to erase certain things only deletes the references to the data’s location, warns the Federal Trade Commission. You need a more thorough cleaning to remove the actual information.
Start by removing any memory cards from your phone. Then reset your phone to its factory settings; the process varies by phone but can involve changing your personal-identification number or reprogramming the phone through your computer.
Check your phone manual or call your service provider for details.
Once your phone is clean, you may be able to sell it, or donate it to a nonprofit or charity group that may refurbish or reuse it.
The Environmental Protection Agency and US Postal Services has information on recycling devices.