How to Keep Your Phone Secure

Keeping Your Information Secure When Selling

How to Keep Your Phone Secure | Keeping Your Information Secure When Selling

If you're ready to invest in a new smartphone or upgrade to the latest release, selling your unwanted phone is a great way to earn money to put toward your purchase. It also gives your used phone a chance for a new life away from e-waste landfills. Because your phone contains sensitive information, you must take steps to secure data on it and wipe it clean before trading it in or listing it for sale.

Learn more about smartphone security and how to factory reset a phone to protect your privacy.


How to Keep Your Cellphone Secure

Smartphones are where many people keep their most important and vulnerable information, like banking accounts, passwords, addresses and more. Protect your identity and keep your data safe with these security tips:

The easiest way to stay on top of updates is to

enable automatic updates for your OS and apps. 

1. Update Your Phone Regularly

As technology grows more intelligent, so do hackers and malware. Regular app and operating system (OS) updates are a critical part of mobile security. Vendors release occasional patches to repair security vulnerabilities, address performance issues and fix any operational errors that impact usability.

Mobile operating system vendors used updates to patch more than 1,000 security vulnerabilities in 2019 alone. Updates fix potential holes in your phone's security before they're jeopardized by threats, and they equip your device with the most up-to-date defenses available. Patch and OS updates may also address concerns with your privacy settings or network connection.

The easiest way to stay on top of updates is to enable automatic updates for your OS and apps. If you're worried about data consumption, you can opt for your phone to only update when connected to Wi-Fi. You should also accept recommended updates as your phone or app suggests them.

2. Choose a Strong Password

The more complex your password, the better protected your phone and all associated accounts and apps may be from unwanted access. You probably already know the basics of choosing a good password, like combining uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols. These additional tips can help you manage password security:

  • Change your password often and as needed after potential breaches or leaks.
  • Lock your phone when you're finished using it or adjust your settings to lock immediately, rather than having a delay where your phone is vulnerable.
  • Use separate passwords for each of your apps and accounts, including your phone's passcode.
  • Avoid common phrases or easy-to-guess words, like your name, birthday, anniversary, phone number or something similar.

3. Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication, also called 2FA, is one way of bolstering your phone or individual app security. By pairing a complex password with a biometric identifier, like your fingerprint or Face ID, you're strengthening the level of protection between sensitive data and the outside world. Two-factor authentication is especially critical for financial apps, like your bank or credit card accounts and shopping apps with your address and billing information.

4. Be Cautious of Public Networks

While it's tempting to connect your phone to your favorite coffee shop's public Wi-Fi network or use the free Wi-Fi to compare prices while grocery shopping, be mindful of where you are and the potential risks involved. One in five mobile security attacks that organizations experience happen after a phone is left vulnerable to a public Wi-Fi network.

Public networks are far less secure than private ones and rarely encrypted. Whenever possible, use a VPN for an encrypted connection. Disable Bluetooth and your Wi-Fi when out, so you can choose when and where to allow connections.


of smartphone users list privacy and security as critical factors to consider before installing a new app on their smartphone.

5. Only Download Trustworthy Apps

Eighty-four percent of smartphone users list privacy and security as critical factors to consider before installing a new app on their smartphone. While Apple's App Store has strict settings for the apps on its platform, Android's Google Play Store is a little less regulated. Regardless of your OS, being vigilant is key.

Monitor your apps with these tips:

  • Read app permissions carefully and only approve if you're comfortable sharing things like your location, camera, contact list and microphone.
  • Audit app permissions regularly and revoke any unnecessary or altered settings.
  • Log out of and delete unused apps.
  • Read app reviews from an unbiased third-party source.

6. Be Vigilant of Phishing and SMiShing Schemes

Protect your phone by staying vigilant of email phishing and text-message SMiShing schemes. Scammers use these schemes to trick phone owners into clicking malicious links or entering personal or financial information. Some common signs of a phishing or SMiShing scheme include:

  • Random texts or emails claiming you need to reset your password or that they've detected suspicious activity and you must act.
  • Messages telling you you've won a prize, cash reward or coupon and must click a link to access it.
  • Messages with generic greetings, typos, unusual phrasing and grammatical errors.
  • Messages with a sense of urgency, especially if asking for you to click a link or submit payment information.
  • Unusual links with unrecognizable or shortened URLs.

Many of these schemes are hard to detect on appearance alone and even go as far as replicating the logos and names of the company they're posing as. If you're not sure whether a message is legitimate, ignore it and contact the company through their official website, app or your personal account. Never click links directly. Report known schemes to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Cellphone Security Apps

While some apps are designed with entertainment or productivity in mind, others are meant to protect your cellphone in case of theft, loss or malicious attack. Consider installing the following:

  • Antivirus apps: Antivirus apps — like Avast, Norton Mobile Security and Malware Bytes — enhance your phone's security by checking for malware and securing your data and passwords. Some have additional features, like cleanup tools, to help you take control of your smartphone's performance.
  • Find My Device: Android's Find My Device app and iOS's Find My iPhone let you locate your phone on a positioning map to help find your lost or stolen smartphone. They have built-in features that let you temporarily disable your phone to protect your data or issue alarms that let others know it's been disabled and tracked.
  • Password management: Password management apps like LastPass and Dashlane let you keep track of your different passwords in a secure, encrypted database. Instead of typing your password each time you log in to an account or app, these apps fill your password in for you without compromising privacy.

How to Securely Sell Your Cellphone

Are you ready to sell or recycle? Follow these five steps to prepare your phone:

1. Back Up Your Phone

Back up all the data and information you want to keep before you start preparing your phone for resale. This can help prevent losing important information when you factory reset your device later on. Backup options include:

  • External storage: Back up pictures, files and your contact list to external storage, like an SD card or hard drive, so you can access it from other devices and easily transfer everything to your new phone. Physical external storage is a great option if you use your phone for work and want to save critical information in multiple places.
  • Cloud storage: Cloud storage, like Apple's iCloud, lets you save data onto the virtual cloud, where it can't take up space on your phone and is always readily available to access or redownload.
  • Data transfer: Automatically transfer all your phone's data to your new device with features like Samsung's Smart Switch for Galaxy smartphones.

Sign out of Accounts Including:

Social Media
Delivery Services
Search Engine Home Pages
Messaging Apps

2. Sign out of Accounts

Sign out of all app and browser accounts, including:

  • Social media
  • Banking
  • Delivery services
  • Search engine home pages
  • Email
  • Messaging apps

3. Unlink Wireless Devices and Remove Accessories

Unlink any connected devices or accessories, like Bluetooth headphones and speakers, smart devices, charging cases and SD storage cards. This is also a good time to remove your phone from your home Wi-Fi network's list of trusted devices. You can do so by opening your internet provider app, viewing your connected devices and adjusting your restrictions.

4. Factory Reset Your Phone

Once you've transferred everything important from your phone, logged out of accounts and are ready to sell or recycle your phone, it's time to perform a factory reset. Factory resets completely wipe your phone and restore it to like-new condition. The process typically takes several minutes to complete, sometimes longer, and gives the buyer a clean slate to work with while protecting your information from unwanted eyes.

Here's how to reset your phone:

  • How to reset a Samsung phone: Factory reset your Samsung phone by going to "Settings," "General Management" and "Reset." Select the "Factory Data Reset" option and click "Reset," then "Delete All."
  • How to reset an Apple phone: To reset your iPhone, go to "Settings," "General," "Reset" then "Erase All Content and Settings." Enter your passcode if prompted, then tap "Erase iPhone." Accept the on-screen warning and wait for the reset to finish.
  • How to reset a Google phone: Google's Pixel lineup uses Android as its operating system. To reset an Android phone on the Google platform, go to "Settings," "System," "Advanced" then "Reset Options." Once here, you'll choose to "Erase All Data (Factory Reset)." Confirm your selection and enter your passcode if asked. Restart your phone when prompted.

There might be some variations in the factory reset process depending on your specific brand and model. Check with your smartphone's user manual or on the manufacturer's website for more information. You can also take your phone to the nearest authorized retailer or servicer for help.

If you can't access your phone's touchscreen or settings due to damage, research how to hard reset your device with a combination of external buttons.

5. Be Cautious of the Buyer

Individual buyers found through online marketplaces are unregulated and hard to predict. You can't be sure they'll show up at the agreed meeting place, and you have to be careful to protect yourself from potential scams. Prioritize your well-being with these tips:

  • Meet the buyer somewhere public and bring a friend or family member with you.
  • Never give or ship the phone to a buyer without confirming payment.
  • Be wary of offers to trade phones instead of payment because you have no way of knowing the phone's history, quality or performance.

A safe and reliable way to sell or recycle your used smartphone is by taking it to an ecoATM kiosk. ecoATM lets you recycle all phones, regardless of condition, and you may get an instant cash offer in minutes. We even take outdated or less popular cellphone models, which can be challenging to resell elsewhere.

Bring your phone to an ecoATM kiosk

and we'll trade you cash for your phone or otherwise recycle it properly


Sell Your Smartphone at an ecoATM Kiosk

Selling an unwanted phone is a great way to repurpose it and keep it out of landfills, but there are several steps you should take beforehand to protect your data from the new owner. Practice good smartphone security by regularly updating your operating system, using helpful security apps and being cautious of public Wi-Fi networks.

If you're ready to upgrade to a new phone or want to clear out unwanted clutter from your home, ecoATM is here to help take your old phone. Bring your phone to an ecoATM kiosk, and we'll trade you cash for your phone or otherwise recycle it properly. Learn how the process works and find an ecoATM kiosk near you to get started.