FORT MYERS, Fla. - In today's digital world, our computers have our names, bank accounts, and even credit card information. Each year, an estimated 30 million computers and 120 million cell phones are traded or recycled, many still containing all of our sensitive and personal information.
"You're literally handing over your personal information to the criminal world," says Larry Daniel with Guardian Security Forensics, and electronic security company.
But protecting yourself is easy. All you have to do is return your phone or computer to its original factory settings.
On the iPhone, users can follow these simple steps: Go to "Settings." Click on "General." Press "Reset," and select "Erase All Content & Settings."
Electronic experts say it can be a little more complicated with Android phones, but usually these steps work: Go to "Settings" and choose "Privacy," then - depending on your phone - consult the online manual for the next few steps.
To erase a personal computer, you need to download software. Consumer Reports recommends downloading the software available at www.dban.org
You'll have to download the software onto a CD, then put the CD into the computer's disc drive and follow the instructions to erase your hard drive's contents.
Apple computers make it a little easier. Every Apple Computer's original operating-system DVD comes with software to erase your files. Put the DVD into your computer's disc drive and reboot. During start-up, hold down the "C" key.
Once booted-up, choose "Utilities," then "Disc Utility." Select "Hard Drive," and then hit "Erase."