Wipe Old Electronics Clean To Keep Your ID Safe

5:43 PM, Sep 18, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- More than likely, your name, bank account and even your credit card information is stored on your personal computer and phone.

Recycling those devices without erasing that info is asking for trouble.

"You're literally giving your personal information out to the criminal world," says digital forensic expert Larry Daniel.

The best way to protect yourself, erase it all.   If you have an iPhone, just go to "settings", click on "general", press "reset" and then select "erase all content and settings."

But computer expert Dean Gallea says erasing data on an Android phone is a little more complicated.

You go to "settings", choose "privacy" then you have to consult the online manual for the next steps.

To erase a personal computer you'll need to download software.  A good choice is from dban.org.

"You download the software and put it onto a CD.  Then you put the CD into computer's disc drive and follow the instructions to erase the hard drive's contents," says Paul Reynolds.

Apple computer's original operating system DVD comes with software to erase your files.

Consumer Reports' Reynolds says, "You put it into the computer's disc drive.  And you reboot it, holding down the 'C' key during startup."

Once the computer is booted up, choose "utilities" then "disc utility', select "hard drive" and then hit "erase."

And think again if you believe you do not have enough time to wipe your device.

"Criminal enterprises live off of personal data.  They love a hard drive that they can get their hands on," Larry Daniel says.

After you have erased your computer and cell phone, double check to make sure everything is gone.

And, cell phones also come with external cards.  If you do not plan to keep the card, erase it as well.

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