This 15-year-old learned an important lesson about her cellphone

CBC Kids News
Story by CBC Kids News • Published 2018-07-26 12:57

Your old, broken iPhone could come back to haunt you if you’re not careful.

That’s what happened to Natalie Hall, a 15-year-old from Bowmanville, Ont.

Natalie Hall sitting outside on a porch

Natalie Hall, 15 (CBC)

When her iPhone shattered, she traded it in for a new model.

But a few weeks later, she found out that her old phone had a new owner, and he had accessed all her personal information, like her photos.

The man was in Dubai, a country in the Middle East.

A map showing the distance between Canada and Dubai

He logged into her Facebook account and added himself as her friend.

A screenshot of Halls' Facebook Messenger with messages from a stranger

"It's creepy having your pictures and your contacts and your social media, text messages — all of that kind of stuff — out there with just a random stranger." - Natalie Hall.

Why did this happen?

Natalie Hall traded her phone in at a mall kiosk for $11.

She thought it would be recycled.

Someone opening up an iPhone with tools

A technician opens a broken iPhone 6 (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)

In fact, it was refurbished and shipped to Dubai along with a bunch of other phones, to be resold.

How can you protect yourself?

If you don’t want this to happen to you, you have to start by resetting your phone.

But that’s not all.

Even if you can’t see your data, it could still be there.

According to Ahmed Bafagih, who buys broken phones through his company, GizmoGrind, the best way to make sure your data is deleted is by overwriting it with new files.

Here’s what he suggests:

Step 1: Go to your phone's settings and reset the device. Step 2: Download some large files that don't contain personal information, like videos. Step 3: Upload the large files to your phone. Step 4: Go to your phone's settings and reset the device again. [Photo of Ahmed Bafagih]

If your phone is too damaged to go through the steps, make sure you sell it to a company that will do it for you.

Get your class on the same page, add this to
Google Classroom

About the Contributor

CBC Kids News
CBC Kids News
Real kids. Real news.
CBC Kids News is news for kids like you! Every day we cover stories you care about. Do you like what you see? Have suggestions on what we can do better? Have story ideas for us? Email us at