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Are Secondhand Electronics Safe For Your Identity?

By Rizwan Ahmad - 11 February 2013 No Comments
You've just purchased a new laptop and you want to do the right thing and donate your old laptop to charity. Before you do so you need to consider whether or not your information has really been deleted or if someone could access it. The truth is it's not enough to simply delete files and information that has been deleted can be accessed. The following is what you need to know about secondhand electronics and your identity.

What Could Happen
If you give away electronics in which you have just deleted the data, without wiping the hard drive, someone who is knowledgeable about computers could still access the data. If you have saved passwords, tax documents, or other sensitive data, it could be compromised. This could easily lead to identity theft. The new user may even be able to access accounts you had on the device to purchase music, movies, etc on your credit card. This could happen on smartphones and other devices that allow you to purchase media.

HP laptop
Image is licensed under CC Attribution 

Removing Data From the Device
It's not enough to delete files, hard drives must be formatted before they can be safely transferred to someone else. Formatting the hard drive will completely erase the data and allow you to reinstall your operating system. This provides a fresh start for the next person who gets the device and prevents the worry of identity theft. If you don't know how to format the drive, you can get help.

Where to Get Help
There are stores you can take your device to in order to wipe the hard drive. However, if you want to do the process yourself, you can look up the instructions online. Some devices will need to be reset in order to clear the hard drive. This is true of smartphones and iPods. Many computers that have Windows 7 or higher will walk you through the process. If all else fails, you can always remove the hard drive and destroy it to prevent the compromise of data. This is done by drilling a hole into the hard drive and piercing the circular disc.

It's always a great idea to donate your old electronics or even sell them for a profit. However, you must take the time to format the hard drive or reset it in order to prevent access to the data. Once the drive is reset or formatted, the data will be completely erased. This will protect your identity and any accounts that may have been used on the device. Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry.

About the Author: Blaine Yoke is always looking for a good deal on electronics, whether he ends up on sites like CyberLink or on Craigslist. He's always super careful about not taking anyone else's personal information or giving out his own.
Rizwan Ahmad
About the Author:
This article is contributed by Blaine Yoke and posted by Rizwan Ahmad Author and founder of, He is a tech blogger from India and he loves to share his thoughts by writing articles on this site to the different topics related to technology world,


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