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Here's how to completely clear personal data from your old cellphone (Hint: deletion might not be enough)

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By MATT LINCOLN, WPEC

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CIRCA via WPEC) — Now that you have the latest and greatest, top-of-the-line gadget, what do you do with your old phone?

Recycling or reselling are options, but before you hand it off, experts like Mike Satter urge people to scrub it clean.

He clears devices for a living.

VULNERABILITY

Satter, of OceanTech, says sensitive financial statements, health records, and information on your kids are not just valuable to you; they are also valuable to hackers.

"Anything that you believe as an individual you want to protect, that's what we're talking about," he said. "And it can really change someone's life."

Deleting data isn’t enough, according to Satter, because the data itself can be found deep in your hard drive.

"And that could be something that could compromise either you and I, our families or our businesses," he said.

Can we guess your age based on your phone habits?

HOW TO CLEAR YOUR PHONE

Satter recommends first doing a factory reset on the device itself, which brings it back to its settings before you bought it.

He says a factory reset is a good option for most people, but if it ends up in the wrong hands, a sophisticated hacker could still find your private information.

So, a better option is to use third-party software that shows you in real time what it's scrubbing and when it's done.

Satter recommends a few different software options to erase your information. ProtectStar Data Shredder, Wise Care 365 and WipeOS are brands he knows and trusts.

"Really, what that's telling you is, 'I am safe now. I am clear. Now, I can do whatever I want with this.' If you want to keep it, great. If you want to give it to your son, your daughter, if you want to sell it, no problem," he said.

The programs cost between $20 and $30.

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