What the Tech: What's left on your phone?
The phone had hundreds of photographs from its previous owner, including dozens of a young woman posing nude.
Patrick Mockmore's 14-year-old son needed a new phone, and handed him the reconditioned phone he had just purchased from Best Buy's Geek Squad. After his son took the phone to his room and charged it, he brought it right back. "He brings it to me and says 'you need to look at this'," Mockmore told me.
When he turned the phone on he found hundreds of photographs from its previous owner, including dozens of a young woman posing nude. Mockmore purchased the phone in November of 2013. "They go all the way back to 2012, it's got a timeline on it," says Mockmore. "Family, nude. A lot!"
There are photos of the owner's home, cars, shoes, kids and a few of documents such as a plane ticket. Mockmore said judging from the photos he deduced the previous owner lives in Florida and might work in law enforcement. He purchased the phone in 2013 and last year he finally located the previous owner who was as surprised as he is that the photos remained on the phone after it was traded in. Contacts and e-mail had been deleted but the photos had not.
The Motorola Photon phone has a slot for an SD card and it's quite possible that while the SIM data was deleted, the SD card contents remain.
"I find it hard to believe they tell you you're getting a reconditioned phone with factory settings and he brings it to me with this on there," Mockmore said, adding, "I've got a lot of explaining to a 14-year-old boy right now."
Mockmore told me he contacted Best Buy's corporate headquarters and someone told him they hadn't heard of anything happening like this before.
Best Buy asked Mockmore to send in the phone so technicians could diagnose what went wrong, but he declined and decided to keep the phone.
A spokesperson for Best Buy released this statement:
"Best Buy takes the issue of personal data privacy very seriously and we wish the customer in this case would have allowed us to fully investigate this situation when it occurred almost four years ago. When we accept product that has been traded in, we strongly encourage customers to wipe data from their devices and we provide information both online and in our stores on how to do so."
Danielle Schumann, Best Buy spokesperson tells Channel 3 "It is a good reminder to delete photos and any documents from a phone before trading it in or selling it and reset the phone to factory settings within the settings menu."