Almost everyone has that grab bag drawer in their home office strewn with pens, rubber bands, and more than a few old cell phones. What do you do with these old cell phones, especially if you’re concerned about protecting your privacy and doing good by the environment?
Those are definitely relevant questions since the average American – you, me and 315 million of our closest friends - replaces their cell phone approximately every two years. That’s usually as long as most phone contracts last and also about as long as it takes for fresh technology to leave the tech incubators in Silicon Valley.
In the meantime, though, you have that drawer to worry about. Well, a lot of people decide to regift their old phones to family members, sell them on secondhand markets like eBay or, perhaps the most philanthropic route, give their phones to charities and needy families. There are also phone recycling programs, but if you go that avenue protecting your personal information is a must.
Wiping Clean Personal Information
Whether you decide to go the regifting, donation or selling route with your old cell phone, you need to know the rudiments of getting rid of personal, potentially exploitable, contact information. We don’t mean to make this seem like a high-stakes episode of “24″ but a little caution in the short term can save a whole lot of hassle later.
- Remove SIM Card
The first thing to consider is that simply popping out your SIM - subscriber identity module – card might not be enough. Why not? You might be covered if you remove your SIM card and restore your phone to its factory settings before selling or donating it, then again you might not.
- Flash Memory
Many cell phones store personal contact information – names, numbers, addresses and emails – internally on the phone’s flash memory. This basically means that when you buy or sell a used phone on secondhand markets or give your phone to a donation agency, your old phone might still contain your old numbers and emails. Yikes!
- Hard, Factory Reset
That’s pretty much a nightmare scenario, especially if you have sensitive financial information stored on your phone’s internal hard drive. The solution’s to remove your SIM card or external SD – storage media – card before restoring your phone to its factory settings with a hard reset.
Doing a hard reset will erase personal information saved on your old phone’s internal memory and removing the SIM or SD card creates an easy transition to your new phone. Just remember to cancel your original phone contract, if it hasn’t already expired.
Donating Your Old Phone
Speaking of phone service providers, there are (surprisingly) some responsible ones out there acting as liaisons for a good cause and coordinating donations to victims of domestic violence.
Check with your phone provider because others have buy-back programs that provide you with a $50 credit and benefit teachers. Yet other companies turn your recycled phones into grants that help underprivileged families.
Recycling One of 150 Million…
Remember that cell phone drawer we were talking about before? Well, it turns out that the recycling initiative known as Keep California Clean estimates that 150 million more phones hop into drawers, closets and other out-of-the-way spots every year.
The goal, though, is to keep cell phones out of landfills where the old cell phone’s toxic parts can wreak havoc on the environment. To find out more go here, or to recycle your phone right now go here.
Whether you’re just looking to get rid of your cell phone or a business owner with considerable e-waste, contact Junk King-Sonoma.