Hidden Camera Investigation: You may be selling your most private information
Jermont Terry, Lindsey Morone
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
MILWAUKEE - From computers to cell phones even tablets, electronics are a big part of our lives. But what happens when it’s time to upgrade?
The I-Team’s investigation may have you thinking twice before junking your gadget.
With a hidden camera, the I-Team went undercover to protect you. We found companies across Southeast Wisconsin selling computers that the store’s owners claimed were wiped clean. But when the paid for the computers and walked out of the door did the computers have someone’s personal information?
“A lot of places even if they say they're going to securely erase it a lot of times they don’t,” explained Jason Roskopf with I-T Connect in Waukesha.
The I-Team did not focus only on computers, we checked out cell phones. With a few clicks you can easily find hundreds of people trying to get rid of one online.
The I-Team went to Craigslist and purchased phones from buyers for $20. We then teamed up with a group of computer software students at MSOE. The students got to work quickly taking the phones apart in search of date.
“I was able to pull the information off in 10 to 20 minutes,” said MSOE student Benjamin Ebert.
The MSOE volunteers found countless pictures, personal images, and even audio files. It led them right back to the seller and the personal information about the seller’s family.
”We aII knew where the kid grew up where he went to high school, just a bunch of information out there from this person's family,” said Ebert.
It was all from a $20 dollar purchase. The same applied to those computers the I-Team purchased. Roskopf found files and pictures, private information sold.
“None of them were wiped clean properly that the next person who knew what they were doing would not be able to get that information back,” explained Roskopf.
If you choose to pass along an old gadget, experts recommend removing the hard drive from a computer before donating it. If you have a cell phone, remove sim card.
If you’re unsure, you can ask your phone provider to perform a factory reset. Nothing is guaranteed to clear everything, but it beats having your information in the wrong hands. Some cell phone companies charge a fee. But experts remind consumers smart phones are mini-computers and they store everything.