What To Do Before You Trade In That Old Phone


With so many ‘trade-in’ deals on old phones right now, does it make you wonder where all those handsets end up? Worse yet, does it make you nervous to give one up as often times, a phone contains more of our personal lives than most people are comfortable with? Sure, you can the device and do a factory reset to protect your personal information, but what about all the other stuff your device did for you? What else really needs to be done before you say farewell to that old phone?

First and foremost, make sure you deactivate the device from Google Play, iTunes or your Windows account. This is usually not done from the device, but rather a device page in the market of your choice. It may also be linked to your iCloud ID or Windows ID. For this example, we will use Google Play. Google only allows 4 deactivations a year per user. This isn’t a problem for many people, and you are allowed to have up to 10 devices on your account (5 mobile and 5 PC’s) so many people don’t even get close to that limit. When you do hit that limit and go in to remove the older ones, you can’t remove more than four per year. If you remember to do this step when your device leaves you, it will spread those over time, rather than having 5-7 devices to remove when you remember to do it.

After you’ve cleared the device from the services that are hosted to it, remove any payment information from the device before resetting it. If you do this before you run the next backup, it will make sure that the next owner won’t accidentally restore your credit card to the device down the road. Which leads into part two, make a back up of the old phone before you reset it. Clear all your personal data and back the device up one last time. Your new phone should be active already so any restoring that should have happened already has. By clearing the data, then backing up again, if someone is able to get your personal information, it will only be the basics instead of all your accounts and passwords.

Finally, when you are getting a new device and ditching that old one, remember that  these phones are going to be resold through refurbishment outlets. Groupon, Stack Social and many other ‘deal’ sites offer refurbished devices on a regular basis. Nine times out of ten, that’s where trade in phones end up, a factory somewhere to be distributed to people for far less than they are worth. Keeping your data safe should be your biggest concern here, so remove the device from the cloud, clear your personal data, factory reset the device and most of all, write down the ESN or IMEI number of the device and remove the SIM if you can. This will ensure that the new user has to have an account and there is no way for that device to be linked back to you. By keeping the SIM, you keep your former account information safe. By keeping the device ID, you can make sure nobody tries to activate that back to your account later. It also comes in handy in case your old carrier decides to try and charge you for something they shouldn’t.

Trading in an old phone really shouldn’t be all that scary, but with today’s digital lifestyle, proper precautions should be taken when you ditch any device. Make sure you clear your personal data, unlink the device online and reset the entire device before you trade anything in. Sure, it’s an extra step for the sales guy to go through, but it will protect you much better going forward.


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