Don't recycle, trade in, sell, or donate a device without wiping it clean
Nearly 60 percent of Americans use three or more Internet-connected devices at home across three different operating systems, according to a recent survey by the Internet security company AVG. With so many gadgets connected to online marketplaces, credit-card and Social Security numbers, banking information, passwords, family photos, and more accumulate in places you might not expect—say on that 7-year-old Nintendo Wii collecting dust on a shelf in your family room or on a hard drive you used to back up your PC at some point very early in President Obama's first term.
With the holiday season here, you might be in the market for a new computer, gaming system, or smart phone for yourself or a family member. Unless you're a hoarder, buying a new device means you'll likely be recycling, trading in, selling, or donating an aging gadget, making it essential to keep sensitive data from getting into the wrong hands. The results could also be devastating: Just ask anyone who's been the victim of identity theft.