AMARILLO, TX - A study conducted across three countries found a majority of refurbished phones purchased online still contained some of the previous owner's personal data.
Blancco Technology Group out of Atlanta and Kroll Ontrack in Minneapolis found varying amounts of left over data on used mobile devices, as well as hard drives and other electronic storage devices that can hold information.
Most of the phones in their study had been cleaned of data in some way, or the owners had at least made an attempt to wipe their information.
But a common misconception is resetting your phone to a factory mode through the phone's built in settings menu will erase every bit of data.
That's not the case.
Nicholas Zetta, president and found of Trigits Electronics, explains that smart phones manufactured in the past few years contain "flash memory," which isn't erased when you reset your phone.
Flash memory can be anything from contact phone numbers, emails, banking logins, and even someone's physical address.
These can't be accessed by just anyone, but there are a number of software programs designed to hack in and access a "reset" phone's flash memory. Phones that people sell to online retailers, that are in turn sold back to the public, can easily have their data compromised if not wiped properly.
Zetta said it's common that big companies will pay for the contact information from these phones, and then market to them, through email, phone calls and even text messages.
"The safest way to reset the phone would be a hard reset, and there's actually websites and software programs to do that'll show you the process to reset it," said Zetta. "That will give you the best chance of someone else not recovering your data."
Trigits Electronics is just one of a number of businesses throughout Amarillo that can help people properly wipe data from their electronics.