Personal details left on used mobile phones make it easier for ID thieves to access sensitive data
More than half of second-hand mobile phones still contain personal information of the previous owner, posing a risk of identity fraud, CPP has warned.
The study found 247 pieces of personal data stored on handsets and SIM cards purchased from eBay and second-hand electronics shops. The information ranged from credit card numbers to bank account details, photographs, email address and login details to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
According to data security firm CPP, 81 percent of previous owners claim they have wiped personal data from their mobile phones and SIM cards before selling them. However, deleting the information manually is “a process that security experts acknowledge leaves the data intact and retrievable”.
Selling for an average of £47, second-hand mobile phones and SIM cards with personal data stored can easily lead to identity fraud, according to CPP’s study.
“This report is a shocking wake-up call and shows how mobile phones can inadvertently cause people to be careless with their personal data,” said Danny Harrison, mobile data expert at CPP.
Before selling or disposing of their mobile phones, the owner is encouraged to:
- Restore all factory settings
- Delete all back-ups
- Log out of all social networking sites, applications, emails and company networks
- Use different passwords on multiple systems
- Check bank statements regularly for suspicious transactions
“Consumers are upgrading their mobiles more than ever and it is imperative people take personal responsibility to properly manage their own data,” Harrison warned.
ID theft decreased
Meanwhile, the number of identity fraud victims has reportedly dropped in 2010 after a two year rise.
However, the average out-of-pocket losses have increased, as thieves focus on new account fraud and stealing from people they know.
Victims’ losses, which include the costs of clearing up identity theft and covering some of the charges incurred by thieves, have risen 63 percent, according to a consumer fraud survey by Javelin Strategy and Research.
According to James Van Dyke, Javelin’s president and founder, the decline in identity theft was somewhat a result of the recovering economy, along with increased security measures and stronger law enforcement.