Global Risk Technologies ( is warning consumers to avoid falling victim to identify theft and other types of fraud exposed by cybercriminals harvesting personal data unwittingly left on old smartphones when they are resold or recycled.

According to the latest estimates, 62% of Western Europeans (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) own a smartphone and users typically look to replace their device approximately every 20 months.1 However, evidence from AVAST shows that people often leave behind personal data and files, with half of the twenty random smartphones analysed leaving over 1,200 photos, over 300 emails/texts, the identities of two previous owners, three invoices, one work contract and one explicit video.

Global Risk’s tips for avoiding identify theft and fraud:

° Deleting files or conducting a factory reset doesn’t necessarily remove all data from the device, especially since data is often stored in several places, including the internal memory, SIM card and/or SD memory cards.

° Use passcodes and security apps so your data won’t be easily compromised if your phone is lost or stolen and subsequently resold. Apps like “Find My iPhone” can track lost or stolen devices, or you can purchase additional security apps to remotely lock the device to thwart hackers or even snap photos of the thief.

° Search online for detailed instructions for your model name/number to manually delete all data.

° Remove Storage Card and SIM cards from your old device and if they will no longer be used, destroyed them before discarding.