Cash Converters and CEX sell used phones with previous owners' data on them

Restoring factory settings is not enough

Two of the UK's largest pawnbrokers are selling used phones that still contain sensitive personal information of the previous owners, says a Channel 4 News report.

It was found that phones purchased from Cash Converters and CEX still contained the texts, photos, bank details and website histories of the previous owners, despite promises from the outlets that the owners' personal information would be "wiped".

However, it was found that both companies only used standard "restore factory setting" wiping techniques, meaning the data was still stored in the gadgets' memories - meaning freely available software from the internet could be used to extract it.

The "restore factory settings" button can be used by any phone owner to make the data invisible when the phone is turned on by a new owner, but it isn't a proper data wipe, despite what phone sellers can be told.

Technology expert SensePost was shown in the report capturing the personal details from gadgets purchased in Cash Converters and CEX stores.

Cash Converters told Channel 4 News that phones were "wiped" to a "standard level" using a "full factory restore" before phones were sold. CEX said it was "currently rolling out a new procedure" that "improves on the current erasing technique used in the second hand phone market".

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told Channel 4 News he was now "contacting CEX and Cash Converters to demand an explanation of how they go about protecting customers' data".

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