Recycle cell phones, yes, but do it safely
If you're like a lot of us, you may have already accumulated a box of old cellular telephones.
While many people sign up for tw0-year contracts, experts say the average person hangs on to a cell phone for about 18 months before upgrading or perhaps losing or breaking it.
Anyway, don't just throw your old cell phones away. You'll probably find a number of cell phone recycling projects under way in your community, with proceeds to a good cause.
But don't be in too much of a hurry.
A Washington D.C. television station purchased a couple of Blackberry cell phones for $20 each from the McCain-Palin campaign. Although they didn't come with chargers -- and most recyclers don't want chargers -- they were easy for the station to charge up.
Once they did, it became apparent that the sellers hadn't taken time to wipe out the phones' memories. One of them contained more than 50 numbers for people connected with the McCain-Palin campaign, as well as hundreds of e-mails from early September until a few days after election night.
The station put out a Web post calling for other purchasers to reveal information they might have found on the used phones.
The lesson is clear; before you turn your old phone over to someone else, make sure the information it contains is deleted.
The same goes for old computers, PDAs and other electronic devices that contain your personal information. In this day of electronic financial transactions and identity theft, that information could be deadly if it falls into the wrong hands.
It's true that some dishonest, expert geek might still be able to retrieve information that has been erased, but we should make it as difficult as possible for them.
Yes, it's still good to recycle your old cell phone or computer instead of throwing it into the trash. But take a minute or two to make sure nothing is on it that could cause you harm.