Over half (54 per cent) of recycled second-hand mobiles contained information on the previous owner including photographs, banking details, Pin numbers and even private texts and e-mails, a study reveals.
Researchers bought used phones and SIM cards on internet auction site, eBay and used electronics shops to see what personal data they held.
The investigation, from advisory body CPP found that 247 pieces of data were left on 19 of the 35 mobiles and 27 of the 50 SIM cards, revealed the study for life assistance company CPP.
The information included credit and debit card pin numbers, bank account details, passwords, phone numbers, company information and login details to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
In research that supported the study, half of second-hand mobile phone owners said they have found personal information from a previous owner on mobile phones and SIM cards they have bought.
Alarmingly, more than four-in five people (81 per cent) claim to have cleared all information from their mobiles before selling them, with six in ten confident they have removed all of their personal information.
CPP is urging consumers to delete all their personal data before upgrading or recycling their handsets.
'This report is a shocking wake up call and shows how mobile phones can inadvertently cause people to be careless with their personal data,' said CPP's mobile data expert Danny Harrison.
'Consumers are upgrading their mobiles more than ever and it is imperative people take personal responsibility to properly manage their own data,' he added.
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