Selling your old cell phone without putting private information at risk

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Cell phone technology seems to move faster than our mouths. With updated models hitting the market constantly, it's no wonder countless consumers will upgrade their cell phones this year.

But what happens to your old cell phone?

Ken Colburn with Data Doctors says selling your old equipment could earn you money, and possibly even offset the cost of your new device.

“There are lots and lots of companies now that will offer to buy your old devices,” he said.

But before you try to sell your cell phone, Colburn says, make sure data like your pictures and contacts are backed up and saved somewhere else.

“Most of these devices have a very specific backup system where you can back all the contents up to a computer,” he said.

But the key, Colburn says, is not to just delete the data you've stored on your cell phone.

He says you have to wipe it clean by changing the settings back to the way they were when you bought it to ensure the content is completely erased.

“We've seen this time and time again where you can go to buy a used phone a lot of times and whoever's selling it didn't even think about all my information, including access to my email address, one button and I'm in,” Colburn explained.

After changing the factory settings, figure what your phone is worth. You can do that on websites like,, or

3 On Your Side found used iPhones reselling for around $250 and Blackberry's going for about $50.

Websites like buys old cell phones, but Colburn says selling privately through websites like Craigslist and eBay will probably make you more money.

“If you sell it to a company that's going to resell it, it’s kind of like cars. You’re not going to get as much from a car dealer as you would an individual. The same holds true when you're selling these old phones,” Colburn said.

Resetting cell phones back to their factory settings is a different process for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry users.

Steps to reset factory setting on an iPhone:
(1)    Start at the home screen.
(2)    Click on the Settings icon.
(3)    Click on General.
(4)    Scroll to the bottom and click on Reset.
(5)    Click on Erase All Content and Settings.

Steps to reset factory settings on a Blackberry:
(1)    Start at the home screen.
(2)    Click on the Settings icon.
(3)    Click on Options.
(4)    Scroll to bottom and click Security Options.
(5)    Click on Security Wipe.
(6)    Select content you want erased.
(7)    Scroll to the bottom and click on Wipe.
Steps to reset factory settings on Android, which can vary:
(1)    Start at the home screen.
(2)    Press the Menu button.
(3)    Click on the Settings icon.
(4)    Select Privacy.
(5)    Scroll to the bottom and select Factory Data Reset.