NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you’ve sold or traded an old phone you might think that all of your old information was wiped away.

But CBS2 has bought more than 100 old phones online, and what was found on them will shock you.

As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported, too many of us store too much personal information on our cell phones.

When we upgrade, recycle, sell or trash our old phone that data could still be there. Even phones that have been smashed can still have retrievable personal information stored.

“It doesn’t matter what’s up here. It matters what I can pull out of the USB port,” forensic investigator Jared Sikorski said.

Sikorski is paid to recover cell phone data for legitimate reasons, but hackers can do the same.

CBS2 spent less than $2 a phone when buying through an online auction site.

A news team was able to power up some of the 155 phones and discovered who owned them, who they called, and who kept racy photos. Investigators at 4-Discovery were able to find addresses, schools, child custody agreements, porn, and even prostitution.

In some cases deleted contacts, credit card, and social security numbers were located.

“Anyone else could use that information to open up other accounts or access other data,” Sikorski said.

That includes where you live.

“If I was a predator, I may get a bad idea and go make a visit,” Sikorski said.

Experts said your data will be safe if your phones are encrypted. Most iPhones are encrypted out of the box, but Androids — even newer ones — have to be manually encrypted.

Before your old phone leaves your hands for good make sure you erase as much information as possible by going back to the factory settings.

Smashing a phone is not guaranteed to work, you have to destroy the small memory chip inside. Security experts added that older phones are easier to hack.

 

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