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Before surrendering your devices for repairs or donation, you want to pull out the SIM card (if applicable) and do a master reset to wipe out all the stored data. This varies from model to model. Some carriers provide software that will reset your device; others will instruct you to use various key combinations. When I had to unexpectedly replace my own mobile device, I went through a series of menu commands. You'll need to call customer service for your carrier to get instructions to reset your device and then verify that all the information is gone by checking your phone settings before handing it over. Wireless Recycling's Cell Phone Data Eraser provides hard reset instructions for many popular devices.
Once you’ve removed the SIM card (if applicable), performed a hard reset and discontinued service with your carrier, your device is ready to be disposed of. Mobile Devices and chargers like computers, contain a variety of toxic materials that can poison the soil, water and air including lead and cadmium so it is important to dispose of your mobile device responsibly.
Most major mobile device carriers will allow you to drop off your older devices. While working on this article my own trusty mobile device bit the dust, forcing me to upgrade. The carrier offered to dispose of my old device as he rang up my order. Though tempted, I held onto it until I could backup and purge the old data. During the process I discovered that most of my 297 contacts were saved to the flash memory of the device and not my SIM as I believed. Had I handed over my device for convenience sake, my call history, text messages, pictures and all those contacts would have been available to strangers. After restoring my all of my contacts to the new device, I safely purged my old device. Now I can consider one of the many options to dispose of my newly cleansed device.