Apple is releasing the latest versions of the iPhone this week - the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. While tech enthusiasts may flock to the new models, which are reportedly twice as fast as former versions and available in new colors, users should be wary of identity theft pitfalls.
This is especially true for those that participate in trade-in programs. Apple is among retailers that allow customers to trade-in old versions of an iPhone to purchase a new one. Walmart and some other stores also offer trade-in programs, but according to Apple Insider, the iPhone maker's option is the most structured. But users of iPhone and other smartphones need to be cautious of the possibly sensitive and revealing information that could be stored on their device before handing it over.
Identity Theft Tips for Smartphone Trade-Ins
There are a number of steps smartphone users will want to take before handing over older models in exchange for a new one. The phone's SIM card, which stores certain information from the phone, should be removed. Any other memory cards that could potentially store sensitive data about you should be taken out as well before turning in the phone.
Smartphones have come to replace address books - they often contain names, phone numbers and even addresses of your contacts. They may also contain your address and other information like your date of birth. Make sure this information is wiped clean before turning it in.
Anthony Scarsella of Gazelle.com, which also offers trade-in programs, told NBC News that users should erase all text messages, pictures and emails from their devices. Not only will this protect against identity theft, but returning the phone to "stock condition" by depersonalizing it may earn you more money for the device, the source said.
Encrypting data on a smartphone you are currently using is also a smart protection method. The new iPhone 5S features a tool that uses your fingerprint to protect data, acting as a password for log-ins, CNN reported.
"Your fingerprint is one of the best passwords in the world," said Dan Riccio, a senior vice president for hardware design at Apple, according to CNN. "It's always with you and no two are exactly alike."
However, just because your phone may be able to encrypt data, your phone's memory card may not be keeping this information safe. Setting up your phone to automatically encrypt data is a smart step to protecting yourself. Luckily, iPhone generations 3GS and up encrypt data automatically. Older devices cannot support this, Refraction reported.
Brett Montgomery is a fraud operations manager at IDentity Theft 911.