If you're still using an iPhone 7 or even a 6 (maybe even a 5?) you may be thinking of upgrading to Apple's new iPhone Xs or Xs Max. Or maybe you're a Samsung Galaxy 7 or 8 user who wants the new 9 or Note 9. You'll likely trade in or sell the phone you currently have before making the new purchase. If so, there are some things you should do to protect your privacy and maybe even your identity.

  • Back up your phone. Whether it’s an iPhone or Android device you don’t want to lose precious photos or videos. On iPhones you can back up your phone using iCloud or by connecting to your computer and iTunes.
  • On Android devices you should already have your photos and videos backed up to Google Photos. You can also connect your phone to a computer and download the contents.
  • IPhone and Android owners can also use a third-party service like Dropbox or Amazon Photos to upload pictures and videos to the cloud.
  • Once everything is backed up and saved it is time to reset the phone to factory settings. On iPhones you can do this by going to settings, general and reset. This will return remove photos, email accounts, apps, contacts and any other content. This cannot be reversed. Once the phone is reset it is like it has never been used.
  • Android devices can be returned to factory settings as well. I also recommend removing the micro SD cards that hold the data. There are two SD cards that can be found on the side of the device. You’ll see a small hole that acts as a key. You may still have one that came with the phone but if not, insert one end of a paper clip in the hole which will open the micro SD card slots. Don’t misplace these. You’ll be able to use them in your next phone.

It’s important to take these steps before selling or trading in your smartphone.

This is also a great time to upgrade your phone by purchasing a previous model. Craigslist, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace are filled now with iPhones 7, 8 and the X. If you are purchasing an older iPhone from Craigslist or Facebook, ask to meet the person at your wireless carrier. This way you can ask someone at the store to check to make sure the iPhone has not been stolen.