Cell Phone Financial Records

cell phone - do I really need one?So what information do you have stored on your cell phone? Are there secrets or financial information that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know about? If there are, you might want to think twice before selling or recycling you phone.

Even if you take the precaution to erase all the information on your cell phone before selling it, that information can likely be retrieved by whomever ends up with it as this article shows:

Selling your old phone once you upgrade to a fancier model can be like handing over your diaries. All sorts of sensitive information pile up inside our cell phones, and deleting it may be more difficult than you think.

A popular practice among sellers, resetting the phone, often means sensitive information appears to have been erased. But it can be resurrected using specialized yet inexpensive software found on the Internet…

If you do any type of online banking or other financial transactions over your cell phone, these accounts could be compromised. It also wouldn’t be that difficult to steal someone’s identity with the information that is stored on most people’s cell phones. I know a lot of people that do have cell phones and most keep sensitive financial information on them (not to mention other information they wouldn’t want others to see – I can write that without drawing suspicion from my wife because I don’t have a cell phone)

The reason that this information remains on the cell phones is that the flash memory they use is slow to erase completely:

The 10 phones Trust Digital studied represented popular models from leading manufacturers. All the phones stored information on “flash” memory chips, the same technology found in digital cameras and some music players.

Flash memory is inexpensive and durable. But it is slow to erase information in ways that make it impossible to recover. So manufacturers compensate with methods that erase data less completely but don’t make a phone seem sluggish.

So if you do have a cell phone and have financial information stored on it, you may want to take the following precautions laid out in the article:

  • Set a password for your cell phone to lock the phone either after some period of inactivity or at a certain time each night. Don’t use an easy-to-guess password or numeric sequence, such as “1-2-3-4.” Most phones allow a user to receive incoming calls and dial 911 for emergencies even when the phone is locked.
  • Consider the risks of storing sensitive data on your phone, such as banking or medical information and passwords. If you must store such information on your phone, consider keeping it on an external memory card that can be removed.
  • Before you sell your used phone or give it away, ask your wireless carrier and your phone’s manufacturer for advice about how to wipe personal information off the phone in ways that it can’t be recovered. Such a process almost always involves overwriting information in a phone’s memory with zeroes or other spurious data.
  • Talk to your company about what technology it employs to protect its information and what is available.
  • As phones are able to store more and more data, the personal and financial information that is stored on them is likely to grow. It’s best to get into these habits now so that your secrets don’t fall into the hands of someone you don’t want to know them today or in the future…

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