Safeguard Your Money and Data Before You Upgrade, Sell, or Give Away Your iPhone
Before you upgrade your iPhone by selling it, giving it away, or trading it in, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns that you absolutely need to wipe all of the sensitive personal information on it. If you don’t erase all of your data and settings, the next owner of your old iPhone can steal your passwords and account numbers, log into the apps on your phone, read your emails and text messages, and see your private photos and videos. If hackers get into your iPhone, they could open accounts in your name, steal your money, and hack into your email to take over your social media accounts.
To safely upgrade your iPhone and protect your money and data, you’ll need to wipe all of your data and connected apps and accounts.
There are all levels of hackers and thieves. Not all hackers are trying to scam en masse with phishing emails and spoof websites. Hackers make money by stealing account logins and payment cards from people using their phones for shoppingA. Even a relatively secure device like an iPhone can be hacked when the user is sending credit card numbers or personal information over unsecured WiFi connections.
Scammers can also steal from phones that are turned in for upgrades or sold in online marketplaces. Phones contain a wealth of personal and financial information that can be easily stolen during a phone upgrade. Have you ever purchased a new phone and dropped so the salesperson can transfer your data for you? Most of us have because it’s easy. It’s also not very safe. The person moving your data and contacts has full login permissions to everything including all of the apps with saved login credentials. That means they could steal or spend your money if they wanted to.
Should You Donate Your Old iPhone?
Of course, it’s good to give back. Communities host collection drives to keep old phones out of landfills and to give to those who are less fortunate. If you choose to donate when you upgrade your old iPhone, you’ll need to follow all the same steps to secure your information.
Does Wiping an iPhone also Wipe iCloud?
Wiping iPhone content and settings doesn’t delete anything from your iPhone account. Erasing an iPhone won’t delete anything from any of your other Apple devices either.
Do Photos Stay on iCloud if Deleted from iPhone?
Free iCloud accounts don’t usually have enough room to store all of an iPhone’s content. iCloud does not store your photos unless you have set it up for photo backups or sharing and have enough space. So, if your photos are only on your iPhone, not iCloud, and they probably are, they will be deleted from your iPhone.
Do This Before You Trade in Your iPhone
- Backup your iPhone Data
- Remove SIM Cards or Memory Cards
- Disconnect Your Phone from other accounts and devices
- Wipe all Personal Data, passwords, and history
Backup Your Data to iCloud
All iPhones can connect with an iCloud account that comes with free storage. However, unless you are willing to pay for more storage, your iCloud account probably doesn’t give you enough space to backup all of your photos and videos. You could also Airdrop photos and videos to any other Apple device. Another option is to upload images to a cloud provider, such as Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.
Alternatively, plug a compatible flash drive into the Lightning connector of an iPhone.
Should I Remove a SIM card before upgrading or Selling an iPhone?
Remove all SIM and SD Cards. If you’re selling your iPhone the new owner has no need for your SIM card. Use a paper-clip or pin to pop the SIM card out of the phone.
If your iPhone has a SIM card, remove it. SIM cards can store personal information from your phone. If you don’t need to reuse the SIM card on your new upgraded iPhone, destroy it. If your iPhone has an SD memory card for increased storage, remove it. It can be reused if needed or destroyed.
Disconnect Your Phone from Other Accounts and Devices
Before you upgrade your iPhone, disconnect it from online accounts or other devices. This includes banking apps and Bluetooth connections. If your iPhone was paired to apple watch or another device like a fitness tracker or Bluetooth speaker be sure to remove the connection. If your iPhone was connected to your car’s Bluetooth, then unpair them. You’ll also have to remove the contacts from the car.
Delete all apps and their data. Have the device forget all WiFi names and passwords.
If you’re not keeping your phone number, change the number on file with any utilities, accounts, or services that are may be using it for authentication.
Erase Personal Information and Login Information
How to Erase Your iPhone
Wipe out all information from your old iPhone by resetting it.
- Tap Settings
- Select General
- Select Reset
- Tap Erase All Content and Settings
- If prompted, enter your passcode or Apple ID password
- Confirm that you want to erase your device
Wait for your iPhone to erase. It can take a few minutes to completely erase your data.
How to Reset iPhone Without Apple ID Using iTunes
- Connect your iPhone to MacBook, or other Apple computer that uses the same iCloud account, with a USB cable
- Launch iTunes on your computer and turn off your iPhone
- Hold down the Home button and Sleep until you see a screen with the iTunes and USB cable icon
Verify Deletion of Personal Information
Finally, after you erase and reset your iPhone, confirm that everything is gone including apps, iCloud accounts, address book contacts, text messages, messaging apps, photos, videos, and web browser history.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers