A SPIKE in the number of mobile devices sold with personal information still on them has a Midland pawnbroker concerned.
Cash City manager Josh Mckenna-Birkby said he now spent up to an hour everyday clearing personal identification and photos from mobile phones, tablets, cameras and laptops.
“Ninety per cent of the time people aren’t even clearing out their devices before they come to sell them,” he said.
“I have a duty of care, I have to clear them out but if they’re selling them on Gumtree or Facebook or something, depending on how savvy the person whose getting it is, they can have access to half of their life within ten minutes.
“It used to be maybe I’d have one to clear out and now it’s probably every 9/10 need a factory wipe and an actual hard reset as well.”
He said the most at risk were the elderly who could be unsure of how to delete their information and the young, who were less aware of the risks.
“Some people don’t know how to clear the devices before they sell them in which case we’ll run through it with them if they’re not too technically savvy,” he said.
“But most people are just so blasé they don’t know the danger they could potentially put themselves in.”
As well as the more common culprits, smart phones and laptops, Mr Mckenna-Birkby reminded consumers not to forget hobby cameras such as GoPros.
Consumer Protection spokesman Alan Hynd agreed that online sites such as Ebay and Gumtree put users at risk because you never knew who was purchasing your device.
“Identity theft is a common problem as criminals attempt to gather information that can enable them to access your bank accounts or apply for online loans in your name,” he said.
“A collection of personal photos is valuable on the black market, images of personal identification are even more valuable.
“Saved passwords in a browser are able to be accessed with simple programs, so if your phone isn’t cleared properly, your accounts, as well as your identity, can be compromised.”
There are ways to protect yourself.
“Format your device if you are disposing or selling it,” My Hynd said.
“Delete photos of identification once they are no longer needed.
“Have complex passwords to access your device and important accounts and activate two factor authentication.”
More information can also be found on protecting your personal information or identity at www.idcare.org
By Claire Ottaviano