Half of used mobiles contain old owner's personal data

Posted by Kate Taylor

Cellphone users, at least in Britain, are happily handing over their personal information to complete strangers by failing to wipe their phones clean when they sell them.

Fraud protection company CPP bought 35 used mobile phones and 50 SIM cards from eBay and found that more than half contained extensive personal data.

In all, CPP found 247 pieces of personal data on the phones and SIM cards. This included credit and debit card PIN numbers, bank account details, passwords, phone numbers, company information and log-in details to social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

And in further research, says CPP, it found that people who have bought a used phone said they'd found personal information on it.

All this comes despite the fact that the vast majority - 81 percent - of people claimed to have wiped their mobiles before selling them. Six in ten were confident they'de removed all of their personal information from them.

The variance could be explained by the fact that most people who claimed to have 'wiped' their handsets tried to erase the data manually - a process that security experts say leaves the data intact and retrievable.

"This report is a shocking wake up call and shows how mobile phones can inadvertently cause people to be careless with their personal data," says CPP mobile data expert Danny Harrison.

"With the rapid technology advancements in the smartphone market and new models released by manufactures multiple times a year, consumers are upgrading their mobiles more than ever and it is imperative people take personal responsibility to properly manage their own data."