N.B: this information was correct as of June 26 2013. Details about recyclers may now be different. 

Following recent reports stating that recycled and stolen phones, which are still full of people’s personal information, are being sold on to foreign criminals looking to commit fraud – we wanted to let you know what really happens to your phones when you sell them to one of our recycling partners.

So to make sure we got the most accurate responses for you, we performed a mystery shop of all of them, asking how exactly they make sure all data and personal information is completely wiped from smartphones before they start their new life.

Posing as a business customer, we asked if it was safe to send our old phones filled with business data to them.

email

Check out the responses below.

Envirofone

Check out their site here

Before a customer sends us their phone we direct them on how to wipe their own data using our Mobile Memory Wiper Tool, we also advise our customers to remove SIM and memory cards. If a customer has not removed their SIM card we remove them during our testing process and they are destroyed. The majority of the phones we receive are already wiped however, phones that are received and sold on to our Approved Buyers will factory reset these phones before re-sale. In the past 8 years at Envirofone we have had over 3 million customers and recycled around 6 million handsets and are yet to experience any problems with data.

Customers are educated through the process of recycling on how to clear down their own mobiles for complete confidence.

Mazuma Mobile

Check out their site here

All our handsets are re-distributed via Approved Partners. Although our Approved Partners ‘factory reset’ all handsets as part of their refurbishment process, we cannot always guarantee that 100% of the data is erased especially if the handsets have secure password locks etc.
For complete peace of mind, we recommend that you use our free Mobile Data Delete Tool to erase the data from your handset(s) prior to sending them to us.

In an official statement the MD of Mazuma Mobile say that they have never had any problems with data fraud from recycling 4.5 Million handsets

Bozowi

Check out their site here

We offer a fully audited data destruction facility upon request, this service has solely been utilised by corporate customers only, we provide this service to local authorities, corporate organisations from all levels and financial institutions. This service is provided upon request and we have to date never had any inquires or issues regarding data within handsets from the general public. We advise all our customers to permanently delete all sensitive and confidential data from their devices before they are sent into our facility.

Bozowi actually had another response as well from their parent company, ECD Ltd. They offered an extra service to completely reset the entire firmware and OS which is another level of data cleansing.

That response from Bozowi made us feel all warm inside!

MobileCashMate

Check out their site here

Wiping data is an important part of routine procedures at MobileCashMate. We also stress to our customers the importance of removing any personal sensitive content from their phone prior to sending the phone to us.
However it is still a surprise to us how much sensitive data is left on phones when customers send them to us and I think as an industry we need to do more to educate customers in securely managing their personal data.
To date despite processing thousands of phones per week MobileCashMate have had no data security issues with phones that have been sold on.

MobileCashMate admit that the industry needs to make more effort to ensure consumers are educated, but must operate a pretty tight ship in terms of data removal for this great transparent response!

Money for your Phone

Check out their site here

With regards to the data, we manually test every single device that we receive and all of the data is manually wiped. We have a strict process and the only way a device can slip through without data being wiped is human error which could happen with anything. We have never received a complaint regarding data being left on the devices we distribute. We have 10 people testing phones all day and our processes are rigorously reviewed. We operate a meticulous process with little room for error.

MoneyForYourPhone much like Mazuma state that they have never received any complains, but strive to clear down all electronics.

Cash In Your Gadgets

Check out their site here

We have strict data protection procedures relating to all gadgets received. In the case of mobile phones, the first part of our testing procedure is to factory reset the handsets to ensure all personal data (including emails, texts etc.) is completely and permanently erased. We’d be happy to provide details on how this can be quickly done for any handset you have, allowing you to ensure all data is removed before the phones are even collected. Should your time not allow for this, you can rest assured it will be performed promptly on their arrival with us. We ask that sim and memory cards are removed by customers prior to sending, if any are found to be present they are removed and destroyed immediately.

Cash In Your Gadgets impressed us also by offering to educate on the removal of data from specific devices.

FoneHub

Check out their site here

To be completely safe, what we suggest is to do a factory data reset, or on blackberry there is an option of security wipe. By doing this above thing, all the data on the phone should wiped completely.

PhoneRecycleBank

Check out their site here

2020 Mobile operates Phone Recycle Bank. We clear down and data wipe all mobile devices that power up in order to ensure that no customer data is passed on before sell off. There are measures we take when we receive devices to try to maximise value for our corporate partners.

Although this response was short, I know for a fact that this 20:20 Mobile do some heavy duty data cleaning from visiting the facility myself back in 2010.

Cash4Phones

Site now closed.

The handsets are Power tested upon arrival, after which they are checked to see if a sim card or memory card has been left inside, if it has we aim to return these products back to the client as swiftly as possible. Furthermore, the handset is reset back to factory settings after customer acceptance.

Tiger Recycle

Check out their site here

Yes, we do wipe all data from phones received. We mainly use factory data reset option available in most handsets. If this option is not available, we process them to wipe manually or by using specialized applications.

Gadget Panda

Check out their site here

We erase all data contained on phones once they have been received. We treat all data as private and confidential. Phones are wiped of all data as per manufacturer instructions and then reformatted to factory settings before being sold on.

Money4Machines

Check out their site here

All handsets that come into us here have their SIM card destroyed and the handset gets fully wiped BEFORE being tested and a full system data wipe is done at the end of the testing to ensure that all phones are 100% clear of any personal data that both the customer and the phone tester may have left on the handset.  This extra measure ensures that none slip through as the tester has to go through the initial phone set up as part of their testing of a handset.

Another recycler we visited recently was Money4Machines, and we saw first hand the measures they employ to removing data, it’s as strong as their response.

Gadgets4Everyone

Check out their site here

All handsets that come into us have their SIM cards destroyed. The devices are wiped so there is nothing left of the customer’s personal data and the device is restored to its factory settings. We also wipe any memory cards that we receive.

Top Dollar Mobile

Check out their site here

Our company Data Policy is stated in the Terms and Conditions on the website. Furthermore, we make every effort to ensure all data is removed.

Fonebank

Check out their site here
Fonebank said that they delete everything in a very short email, but sent us their certificate of data deletion dated back from 2010.

Simply Drop

Check out their site here

Yes, we do delete all data from all phones we receive to make sure nothing is passed on.

In summary for GENERAL USERS

  • Remove your memory cards
  • Remove SIM cards
  • Perform a factory reset through the phones menu

In summary for BUSINESS USERS

We contacted a third party service, Blancco who provide data cleansing at a regulatory level. Blancco provides a verifiable report upon deleting data with electronic serial numbers, which they say is crucial for secure resale or reuse. This service is trusted by by governments, banks and all sorts of businesses that require a forensic data clean.

To be sure you have removed all the data on a business phone, CompareMyMobile.com recommends that you do the following:

  • Ensure an application  is used to delete the data either through a recycler or third party
  • For sensitive data ensure regulatory reporting is in place to verify the data deletion from mobile devices
  • Remove your memory cards
  • Remove SIM cards
  • Perform a factory reset through the phones menu

Final thoughts

Here at CompareMyMobile.com we always recommend that you restore factory settings on your phone, which will wipe your personal information off the device completely. You can do this by visiting your settings menu and following the factory re-set option. You also don’t have to send off parts like your memory and SIM cards so it’s just best to keep hold of them or wipe the data off those too before throwing them away.

It’s always best to have peace of mind that you have wiped the data from your phone yourself, but this research clearly shows that wiping data from phones is a priority for our recycling partners too – another reason that recycling your phone through a legitimate, trustworthy site is a great and safe way to get cash for your old phone.

Another issue is stolen, barred or blocked mobile phones which we’ll be tackling next!

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