Scam of the day – January 15, 2013 – Dangers of selling or donating computers and smart phones

Computers and smart phones are constantly being improved and updated.  Consequently, we all are getting new computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices every few years and some of us, who believe they must have the latest devices, more often than that.  Some people choose to sell their used computers, smart phones and mobile devices while others donate them to worthy causes.  The problem comes when information stored on those devices falls into the hands of identity thieves who gather the information that can still be retrieved from these devices to make their former owners the victims of identity theft.  This has become a particularly significant problem in the last year for Apple product users.  People who believe that merely by deleting information from their computer, the information is eliminated are sadly mistaken.  A used computer, smart phone or other portable electronic device is a gold mine in the hands of a skilled identity thief.

TIPS

You may want to consider destroying the hard drive of your older devices and scrapping them rather than selling them for the few dollars that you can get for them.  If you do sell or donate your computer, smart phone or portable devices, make sure that, before you get rid of the device,  you utilize one of the many data destroying software programs.  Android devices and computers that use the Windows XP operating system are particularly difficult to clear of data.  My weapon of choice in the war against identity theft in this instance is the decidedly low-tech hammer, which I use to smash and utterly destroy the hard drive.  This will destroy the stored data and give you a sense of accomplishment as well as a little exercise at the same time.